Even in today’s world where you can get pretty decent strawberries, citrus, and other produce all year round (imported of course, but totally edible), peaches are one of those items that should be reserved for summertime only. The flavorless and mealy stone fruit that pop up in grocery stores out-of-season barely resemble the sweet, luscious and so juicy-it-drips-down-your-skin peaches that are overflowing at farmers markets all around the country right now. Since I can’t restrain myself from filling my basket with way more than I could possibly snack on in a week, I’m constantly looking for ways to incorporate them into recipes. My current favorites are a peach and rosemary chutney to top grilled pork chops, and these peach shortcakes with lavender whipped cream. They’re an ideal dessert for a laid-back summer dinner party since all the components can be prepared in advance. After you clear the dinner dishes, grab a helper, form an assembly line, and put these together in less than three minutes. Keep reading for a few tips on picking out perfect peaches at the store, and of course, the recipe!
Peaches are one of the few fruits that will continue to ripen (not just rot) off the tree, which means that it’s a good idea to buy peaches that are very firm unless you know you’ll be using them immediately when you get home. So how to know when they’re ready to eat?
- Yellow fleshed peaches should have a golden hue — if there’s a light yellow or greenish cast to them, they’re still unripe.
- Avoid peaches that have a flattened area or bruising.
- Lay the peach in the palm of your hand, and gently press onto the skin with your finger. If you feel a gentle “give,” the peach is sweet and ready-to-eat.
- To speed up the ripening process, place the peach in a dark place (like inside a paper bag) for a day or two, and it should be ready to go!
Peach Shortcakes with Lavender Cream
- 3 medium-sized ripe peaches
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon dried lavender, plus more for garnish
- 2 teaspoons powdered sugar
for the biscuits
- 2 1/3 cups classic biscuit mix (like Bisquick, or something similar. Yep, we’re keeping it old-school.)
- 2/3 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons coarse raw sugar
- Prepare the peaches: Place in a large saucepan of boiling water for 15 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon, then transfer to an ice water bath to quickly cool them off. Peel the peaches (the skin should slip right off!), slice into wedges and set aside.
- Make the lavender cream: In a small saucepan, combine the cream and lavender. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Strain mixture, then refrigerate the cream until completely chilled.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer (I like to use the whisk attachment — you can also use a handheld electric mixer), beat the cream on medium-high until it begins to thicken. Add powdered sugar, then continue to beat until soft peaks form.
- Make the biscuits: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl, stir together biscuit mix, milk, sugar and melted butter just until a soft dough forms. Drop into 6 big spoonfuls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle each with raw sugar. Bake for 12 minutes or until tops are golden.
- Assemble the shortcakes: split each biscuit in half. On the bottom halves, place a dollop of whipped cream, and top with 3 or 4 peach slices. Top with remaining biscuit halves, scatter a few dried lavender buds around and eat!
*photos by Camille