August heralds the arrival of sweet, tree-ripened, farmer direct peaches from the Okanagan Tree Fruit Cooperative at the Co-op, and they are delicious once again this year. These are the best peaches money can buy because not only are they organic, but they are picked and delivered by the farmer’s co-op directly to our co-ops, so at no time are they sitting in some warehouse waiting to be delivered to the consumer. I knew I wanted to feature them this week, and I found the perfect recipe in America’s Test Kitchen’s Best Summer Desserts edition.
Every recipe I have ever made from Cook’s Illustrated or America’s Test Kitchen (one of the best shows on PBS, it you ask me!) has turned out fantastic, and they don’t disappoint with their recipe for Peach Bars. I’ll note that both of their websites have limited free content, but I gladly pay the subscription fee because they don’t allow advertising in their magazines or their websites. Their Peach Bar recipe was easily adapted to being gluten-free (it should turn out pretty identical whether you make it with all-purpose flour or a gluten-free flour blend), and if you replace the butter with margarine or coconut oil you can make a vegan version as well.
This was a simple recipe because the bulk of the work is done by the food processor – you don’t even have to carefully cut the peaches. I used a couple large and juicy white peaches and one yellow peach, as well as Nature’s Hollow Peach Preserves for a little extra peachy kick. These bars aren’t overly sweet, and I really wish I could have taken photos of people trying them to illustrate how yummy they are – they don’t look very exciting on the plate, but the look of surprise on people’s faces once they tasted them was priceless! I highly recommend whipping up a batch – they taste like the best part of summer and you will be exceptionally popular with those you choose to share them with!
Peach Almond Bars
makes 24 bars
- 1 3/4 c sliced almonds (6.5 oz)
- 1 1/2 c flour—can use either all-purpose or gluten-free blend
- 1/3 c granulated sugar
- 1/3 c packed brown sugar, plus 1 T
- Sea salt
- 12 T unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2” pieces (you can substitute margarine for a vegan version of the recipe)
- 1 1/2 # peaches (about 3 large), peeled, halved and pitted, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 c peach preserves
- 1/2 t grated lemon zest, plus 1t lemon juice
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375°F.
- Make a foil sling for a 13×9 baking dish—fold 2 long sheets of foil; first sheet should be about 13” and the second should be about 9”. Lay sheets of foil over pan perpendicular to each other, with extra foil hanging over edges. Smooth foil flush against the pan. Spray with veggie oil spray.
- Process 1 1/4 c almonds, flour, sugar, 1/3 c brown sugar, and 1/2 t sea salt in a food processor until combined, about 5 seconds.
- Add butter and pulse mixture until it resembles coarse meal (some pea-sized pieces of butter will remain), about 20 pulses.
- Transfer 1/2 c of the mixture to a bowl and set aside. Press remaining mixture into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Mix 1T of brown sugar into reserved mixture and put it in the fridge (if your kitchen is warm).
- While crust is baking, remove blade from processor and wipe out your work bowl. Pulse peaches and preserves in the processor until mixture is in 1/4” chunks, about 5 pulses. Cook peaches in a large non-stick skillet over high heat until thickened and jam-like, about 10 minutes.
- Take peaches off the heat, and add a pinch of salt and the lemon zest and juice. Stir to combine.
- Pour peach mixture over hot crust.
- Using your fingers, pinch reserved flour mixture to create dime-sized clumps and sprinkle them over the peaches. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 c almonds over the top.
- Bake until almonds are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, at least two hours.
- Using foil overhang, lift from pan and cut into 24 squares. Enjoy!
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days.