In my dining room, I have a chalkboard in a pretty frame. It’s the one chalkboard in the house (we have several) that the kids are not allowed to draw on; it’s just for me. Sometimes I draw pictures (a Thanksgiving turkey, a Christmas tree, the Easter bunny), but most of the time it’s the specials board for my imaginary bakery. Every so often, usually as the seasons change, I dream up a new list of goodies, draw little flowers and coffee cups and swirls, and pretend I’m actually going to bake these things and sell them in a quaint bakery/coffee shop, situated in an old mansion in some sweet-but-accessible neighborhood, where I also rent the upstairs rooms and host poetry readings and live music in the others. Also there’s a huge play room for the kids and a patio with fairy lights.
Yeah, I’m a grown-up, but I still play make-believe.
Anyway, as spring gave way to summer, I wrote down three new specials: cherry-vanilla semifreddo, peach cobbler blondies, and sweet-and-sour strawberry pie. But I never made them–I didn’t have much occasion to. Until my husband said, “When are you going to make those peach cobbler blondies?”
So I did.
It was exciting, creating this recipe. You see, I love blondies, but most people seem to prefer brownies so I don’t make them that often. I also like fruit cobblers and crisps (this would be AMAZING with a crisp topping instead of the pastry–totally doing that next time) but I always feel like it’s too much fruit (If I’m scooping my own serving, I try to get lots of topping with just a little fruit). So this recipe tugs at my heart and my tastebuds–and my husband actually wanted me to make it! And my parents were in town so there were people to help eat it! I served it with homemade vanilla ice cream. I can’t resist saying: it was just peachy.
So. The recipe:
Peach Cobbler Blondies
For the blondie batter:
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350F. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the ginger and beat until combined. Add the vanilla extract and the eggs, one by one. Add the flour mixture and stir until completely combined. The batter will look like a thick, gorgeous caramel. Pour it into your prepared pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until it is definitely baked around the edges but the middle might not quite be done. (For a more caramelly flavor, you can melt the butter and sugar together, but it will make the blondies chewier and tougher to get your fork through.)
For the peach filling:
4-5 very ripe peaches, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Whisk together the sugar, nutmeg, and flour. Add the peaches and toss until coated. Set aside.
For the pastry topping:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup very cold unsalted butter, finely diced or grated
about 1/2 cup ice water
In a medium bowl or a food processor, rub or cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Slowly add the ice water until it forms a dough but is not sticky. Work the dough gently until it just forms a ball and refrigerate until needed.
When you remove the blondies from the oven, don’t turn it off!
Sugar in the raw
Apricot or peach jam/preserves
Arrange the peaches in a thin layer on top of the blondies, decoratively if you wish but they will be covered by the cobbler topping so they don’t need to be gorgeous. Take your pastry dough out of the fridge and start breaking off chunks, rolling them into balls, and flattening them (I like pieces of various sizes for the look of it, but you can do this any way you want–you could even roll your dough out into a long snake and coil it over the top if you wanted, as long as the rope was thin enough to bake through). Arrange the dough on top of the peaches and sprinkle with raw sugar (optional, but pretty–and tasty! you could also do an egg wash if you wish but I prefer not to so I’m not fooled into thinking the pastry is done too early). Bake in the same 350 degree oven for 40-50 minutes, until the pastry looks firm and the peach mixture is bubbling up through the cracks, even at the center of the dish. In a small dish, melt about two tablespoons of apricot or peach preserves. Use a pastry brush to paint it onto the blondies, coating all the pastry and exposed fruit. If you wish, you may pop it back in the oven for a couple minutes to melt the preserves even further, or about five minutes to let the preserves brown. Allow to cool completely before cutting and serving with vanilla ice cream.