Peach and Crème Fraîche Pie

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I had a lot of things on my to do list this summer, and as per usual most of them (namely, my golf game, my tan, and my trip to the Hamptons) didn’t happen. But a few did, and happily one of those was to finally make Martha Stewart’s peach and crème fraîche pie. I saw this pie in her magazine years ago but never really had an excuse to make it – who makes pies, after all, besides grandmothers? Crisps and cobblers and just plain peaches with ice cream are so much easier. But the peach dumplings I made last year were such a hit that I thought maybe this summer I should try the pie.  And since we only have a few days left in August, which we all know is the month for peaches, I made it this past weekend. 

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Aside from the crust, this pie is so easy to throw together (although come to think of it, aside from the crust, so is every pie). I actually planned to use a store bought crust, but if you can believe it Whole Foods appears to only sell puff pastry, no frozen pie dough. Ugh. So my “quick dessert” that I planned to throw together in twenty minutes ended up taking the better part of an afternoon, but it was so yummy it was worth it. Simply peel and quarter your peaches and toss them with sugar and a little salt, mix together a quick crumble topping and then (once your crust is ready) you can assemble the pie in about five minutes.  When I searched google for this recipe, I found that Smitten Kitchen had beat me to it (even when I don’t intentionally blog her recipes, I still end up blogging her recipes – sorry Deb!).  In her notes she mentioned that the pie could use a little additional sugar, so when Martha told me to toss my peaches with two tablespoons granulated sugar, I added two tablespoons brown sugar as well.  I also added a little cinnamon to both the peaches and the crumble – not enough to detract from the simplicity of the pie, but just a pinch to spice it up a bit (literally, hehe).  There’s just something about the peach-brown sugar-cinnamon combo that is hard to beat.

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My only note to this recipe (aside from the brown sugar and cinnamon, and my subtle hint to use frozen pie crust) would be to use a “pie shield” to keep the crust from getting too dark.  I’ve seen these in the baking section at Met Market a hundred times and thought they must be a total gimmick – but I made the mistake of walking to the coffee shop while my pie was in the oven and came back to a VERY toasty looking crust.  I tried to cover the edges with tin foil for the last few minutes of baking time, but it was too late.  It still tasted fine, but I was pretty sad – at least, until I noticed that Deb’s and even Martha’s crusts looked pretty dang brown (and Martha even tells you to cover your crust).  This might be less of an issue if you didn’t par bake, but just FYI.

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Yum yummy yum.  The peaches and cream bake together into such a delicious custard, with the crumble adding a little crunch.  I served this on Sunday night after a long wedding weekend, and it was met with unanimously rave reviews. Everyone gobbled it up so fast I didn’t even have time to take a picture once it was all sliced up (it looked so pretty on the inside), which I think gives me an excuse to make it again – only this time, with a frozen crust. Just call me Grandma! 

Peaches, previously: dumplings with bourbon hard sauce, shortcakes

One year ago: pesto, two ways (and one is kale!)

Peach and Crème Fraîche Pie, from Martha Stewart Living

For the crust (you could use any crust you like, including store bought, but I’m going to give you Martha’s pâte sucrée recipe):
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold, cut into pieces
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed

For the streusel: 
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cold, cut into pieces

For the filling: 
4-5 medium ripe yellow peaches, pitted and quartered (I peeled mine)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
Pinch of salt
5 tablespoons crème fraîche (I used a little more)

Directions:

Crust: pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. Add egg yolk, and pulse. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube until dough just holds together. Turn out dough onto a work surface; shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or up to two days.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thick. Fit into a 9 1/2- or 10-inch pie plate (about 1 1/2 inches deep). Trim edge to one inch, fold under, and crimp as desired. Pierce bottom of dough all over with a fork. Transfer to freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover edge of crust with foil. Line crust with parchment paper, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake, covered, 10 minutes. Remove weights and parchment (keep foil on edge). Bake until pale golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly; remove foil; reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.

While the crust is baking, prepare streusel and filling.

Streusel: sift together sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon (if using) in a medium bowl. Using your hands or a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. 

Filling: put peach quarters in a medium bowl and sprinkle with sugars and salt; gently toss to coat.

Put pie together: once the crust has cooled a bit, spread two tablespoons crème fraîche onto the bottom of the crust and sprinkle with one-third of the streusel. Arrange peaches on top; spread or dot with remaining three (or more) tablespoons crème fraîche. Sprinkle with remaining streusel.

Bake pie: at 375 degrees until bubbling and golden brown, about 50 minutes. Cover edge of crust with foil if it’s browning too quickly. Let cool on a wire rack 15 minutes. Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.

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Chocolate Chip Mint Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches

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I saw these on my favorite blog a couple weeks ago, and obviously had to make them asap (I should really start to think about unsubscribing from all of these food blogs, as they make it pretty hard to stick to my diet “healthy eating lifestyle”).  I waited until I had a summer BBQ to attend, thinking they would be the perfect thing to bring.  I bet you guys can already see the issue, right? It’s a little embarrassing that I didn’t. As it turns out, ice cream + summer weather + car transport + rush hour = disaster (car transport alone was probably enough to seal their fate, but the 90 degree heat and traffic didn’t help).  Why didn’t I think to put them in a cooler? Unclear.

But here’s the thing, they were pretty melty to begin with. I debated even posting this recipe, because (a) do we really need a recipe for ice cream sandwiches? and also (b) because mine didn’t turn out that well. At least, at first. But as the saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed….try, try again.  And while I may not apply that mantra to any important areas of my life, of course I’m going to try again at brownie ice cream sandwiches.

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While a recipe for ice cream sandwiches is a little superfluous, a recipe for brownies is not. Deb’s brownies are the best – and so easy. Seven ingredients, at least six of which you probably already have in your fridge/pantry (I never seem to have baker’s chocolate, aside from the odd ounce I always have leftover from when I made these brownies the last time).  To make these ice cream sandwich-friendly, you just spread the batter into two layers, either in two 8×8 pans (ideal) or one 9×13 pan (which would also be fine). Secret option number three is to bake two batches in one 8×8 pan, if you can only find one, like me. It’s not the end of the world but next time I’ll use a 9×13, or look harder for my other brownie pan.

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The brownie part is easy (although I would note that these layers are pretty thin, so make sure to let them completely cool before handling, and even then be very careful.  I had the best luck when they were completely frozen). The tricky part is getting the ice cream to stay frozen. I considered glossing over my first attempt, but what is this blog if not an attempt to help you learn from my mistakes?

Deb says you can spread the ice cream over the first brownie layer, top it with the second brownie layer, freeze it for 30 minutes, and you’re good to go.  Perhaps she used better ice cream than me, or has a colder freezer.  But the below photos show my attempt and the sad, melty results.

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Frozen.

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Still frozen.

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Appears frozen-ish.

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Melty mess.  And this is before I had to put them in the car.

Needless to say, they arrived at the party looking less like ice cream sandwiches, and more like 32 thin brownie squares floating in a pool of mint green and vanilla swirled milk.  Tragic. But I made them again, and this time froze the ice cream all by itself in the 8×8 pan (lined with parchment) for a full 24 hours.  I cut the brownies and the ice cream separately and then put the sandwiches together and it worked perfectly. (When I cut the sandwiches the first time the ice cream oozed out – it probably would have been ok if the ice cream had been more frozen but I was afraid to try it out the second time.  Also I think if the sandwich was put together in the pan the cutting would go better as the ice cream wouldn’t have anywhere to go. If you try these at home, experiment and let me know how it goes).

Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches, from Smitten Kitchen

For the brownies:
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

For the filling:
2 to 3 cups ice cream (one quart or two pints)

Heat your oven to 350°F. Line two 8×8-inch square baking pans with parchment paper.  Spray parchment with a nonstick cooking spray (I like to spray the bottom of the pan first so that the parchment sticks/stays in place, then spray the parchment and sides of pan generously as well).

In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, heat chocolate and butter together until almost melted (you can also do this in the microwave – heat in short increments, stirring every 20-30 seconds or so). Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Stir in sugar until fully combined, then eggs, one at a time and then vanilla. Stir in salt until combined, then flour. Try not to over-mix.

Divide batter between two prepared pans and spread evenly — an offset spatula will make this easier. Bake on different racks for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating once top to bottom and front to back, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each pan comes out batter-free. Transfer hot pans directly to freezer (you can put down dish towels or a cooling rack to protect shelves). Chill until cold and firm, about 15 to 20 minutes.

<<This is where my instructions will differ from Deb’s – but I would encourage you to try it her way first if you want.  Especially if you don’t have to transport yours, or if you have the time and energy to do a trial run.  But I think my way is a little more foolproof, albeit not quite as seamless.>>

For sandwiches:
Once brownies have cooled, remove one of the brownie layers from the pan and store on a cookie sheet or cooling rack (these layers are pretty thin so they’ll break easily if they aren’t completely cooled or frozen – be careful!).  Wipe down the 8×8 pan and re-line with parchment (no spray needed this time).  Scoop your ice cream out into the pan, and use a spatula to “smoosh” it into a smooth layer. Cover with parchment and use the second brownie pan to weigh the ice cream down (if you used a 9×13 or only have one 8×8, like me, you can skip this step). Return the ice cream to the freezer and freeze as long as possible. Deb said she only needed 20 minutes – I gave mine over 24 hours and it still started to melt pretty quickly.

When you’re ready to make your sandwiches, cut both brownie layers into 16 squares.  Remove ice cream from the freezer, lift it (using the parchment sling) onto a cutting board, and quickly cut it into 16 squares as well. Make the sandwiches and return to the freezer to let them re-freeze a bit. You’ll want a cookie sheet or a 9×13 pan if you don’t have two 8×8 pans, as it would be tricky to squeeze them all back into one 8×8.