Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Making the Most of the Local Harvest: Bourbon Caramel Peach Cobbler

I'm not usually a person who plans too far ahead.  After all, I like a bit of uncertainty in my life. And, although I can appreciate good planning as much as the next guy, I'm well aware that not every aspect of life can be perfectly orchestrated.

However, there are some areas in life which require me to exercise foresight.

When the dog days of summer have come to an end, and crisp autumnal breezes have blown their last... when the snow sits idly on the ground and the February wind whips through our hair, there's one thing for which I long: FRUIT.

We get spoiled during the summer months when sweet, ripe, locally grown fruit is at the ready just about any time we have a craving.  But, by the time January rolls around in this Wisconsin climate, I'm hard-pressed to find much beyond a few storage apples in the back of my refrigerator and insanely priced packages of frozen berries at my local coop.

So this year, we're preparing for the winter by putting up as much fruit as possible.  So far, we've managed to sock away 5 lbs of strawberries, 6 lbs of raspberries, 10 lbs of sour cherries, and (just this weekend) almost 50 lbs of Door County peaches.  I'm freezing the fruit -- in great part so that I can reduce the amount of added sugar as much as possible. But, I may also try my hand at canning a few jars of apple or pear butter by the time the season ends.

Of course, when there's this much delicious fruit lying around, it's also difficult not to enjoy a bit of it while it's at its peak.  In addition to eating dozens of these lovely peaches out of hand, we also managed to enjoy a few of them in one of our favorite sweet treats.

Rather than make our usual batch of peach ice cream, we decided to go with something warm and comforting -- a peach cobbler.  But, this particular cobbler has a twist. Its peaches are cooked in a caramel sauce that's accented by a bit of Kentucky Bourbon. And the best part is - it can be made in September with the best, fresh peaches of the season.  But, it also turns out great when made in mid-February with fresh frozen peaches -- you know, the ones you stockpiled during the height of the season.

If you're using fresh peaches, you'll want to sprinkle them with a bit of sugar and allow them to sit for about 1/2 hour so that the sugar can draw out their juices.  However, if you're making it with frozen peaches, you may find that the thawed peaches produce enough juice on their own.
 Meanwhile, you mix together a sugar syrup, place it into a cast iron (or other heavy-bottomed) pan, and allow it to caramelize.
To the caramel, you'll add the juices from the peaches, a bit of butter, and a splash of bourbon.  Toss the caramel with the peaches, and top the fruit with a classic crumble mixture (made from butter, flour, brown sugar, another splash of bourbon, some oatmeal, and a pinch of salt) and a few chopped pecans.
 Bake until caramel is bubbly and topping is crisp and browned.  And serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
I could begin to tell you all about how delicious this cobbler is -- how the bourbon flavor cuts the sweetness of the caramel and enhances the fruitiness of the peaches.  I could describe the buttery topping -- which is crusty and light and nutty all at the same time.   Or I could just stand by and let you make your own -- which is probably the smart thing to do.

Bourbon Caramel Peach Cobbler

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  1. What a perfect way to use your peaches! I'll have to give this a try too. Very glad to see you used Kentucky Bourbon! Only the best. :)

  2. Oh my heavenly days! You guys are made out of pure peachy genius! What I want right now is to step through my screen and grab some of that gorgeousness in the pan. Right this second.

  3. Did somebody say Peach Cobbler? *eyes widen* Salivating over here.

    We've stocked up and frozen many of our collections from the U-Pick farm and now I'm even starting to freeze strawberries from Costco. If not for pies and cobblers, I actually still make smoothies in the winter.

  4. I often spend so much time enjoying fruit during the summer that I forget I want to save it for the winter! This cobbler sounds fantastic...but what doesn't taste better with a little bourbon in it?

  5. I certainly wouldn't wait to eat that. I love the bourbon in there.

  6. This really looks great - and I so love anything that is baked in cast iron. yet another winner from the Burp! family!!

  7. Um. This is just the way a peach should be eaten. If you're going to have them, bake them in caramel and bourbon. Excellent!

  8. We have been working on putting up fruit this year too. So far I only have 6 pints of raspberries and 12 of blueberries. But I am doing plums and hopefully peaches today as well. Apples are soon too!

  9. I was seriously drooling reading this post! I just picked up some Door County peaches at the market. They are so good! I want to can and freeze a bunch, but have to get through the peppers first.

  10. Lo, this looks ridiculously good!!!


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