25 May 2011

Dark Chocolate Peach Crumble

Summer has hit Lisbon, and it will linger like a socially inept houseguest well into October.

Yes, I understand that this is an ungrateful attitude toward a warm climate. And I'll be the first to admit, coming to Portugal for a beach holiday and enjoying the heat and constant gorgeous sunshine is a spectacular way to spend a week or two.  But commuting via crowded bus, lugging home bags of groceries, doing the vacuuming, and finding business attire that covers nakedness but does not bring on instant sweating?  All less than awesome realities of life in sunny climes.

Perhaps the biggest reason for my lousy attitude about summer is the sorry effect it has on my urge to bake.  Baking is something I do to relieve stress, it makes me feel comforted and cozy and fills me with chocolate and butter and sugar.  Unfortunately, that form of stress relief is not as appealing when the temps are pushing 90F day after day.

So, in order to make baking more enjoyable for the six months of Lisbon summer, I have been playing around with some easy, quick desserts.  Desserts which won't make you feel overly full.  Desserts that capture some freshness of the season, and take just a moment to pull together.  Desserts that make the most of what you have on hand, so you don't have to go out into the heat.

Desserts that use vinho verde, the perfect cure for a hot day.

This Dark Chocolate Peach Crumble is loosely based on a recipe that seemed lovely, but which asked me to perfectly halve and peel ripe peaches.  Two deformed peach halves later, I realized that this was already running counter to my idea of a great summer dessert.

Instead, I decided to simply peel and slice the peaches, and if they were a bit squished or ugly, they would not care, since they would be doused in wine and sugar and then covered with a blanket of crispy chocolatey cookie crumble.

Just one mixing bowl, a half hour in the oven, and plenty of time to sit back and enjoy a glass of cold wine while you wait for your summer baking treat.  Stress relief: accomplished!

Dark Chocolate Peach Crumble
adapted from this recipe
serves 4
This quick dessert can be adapted in so many ways!  Strawberries would be great instead of peaches, with a big dollop of whipped cream.  Or if you don't have almond cookies but you have Chocolate Chip, or Nilla Wafers, or Nutter Butters laying around, you could use those, too.

4 ripe but firm peaches
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp flour
1/4 cup white wine or vinho verde (optional, but great)
1 cup of crushed almond cookies
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).

2. To peel the peaches easily, bring a pot of water to a boil, and fill a large bowl with ice cubes and water.  Boil the peaches for about 45 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon, and place them in the ice water.  After about 10-20 seconds, you should be able to slit the skin of the peach and just pull the peel right off with no difficulty.  (If it is still difficult, put back to boil for another 30 seconds, then into the ice again.)

3. Once the peaches are peeled, remove the pits and slice them.  Place the peach slices in a pie dish.  Sprinkle on 2 tbsp of sugar and the flour, and toss to coat.  Pour the wine on top.

4. In a bowl, mix together the cookies, egg yolks, oats, and cocoa.  (It will be sticky and in clumps.)

5. Spread the chocolate mixture on top of the peaches. Sprinkle up to 1/4 cup of sugar on top, depending on how dark you like your chocolate to taste.

6. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.  Serve hot with ice cream, or at room temp.