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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Peach Cinnamon Vanilla Crumb Bars


Before I tell you more about these lovely crumb bars I wanted to let you know about a local Utah gal, Melissa Chappell who has made a real name for herself by teaching people how to eat fresh foods and understand the benefits.  Something I personally am trying to start learning more about.  This book is a great, useful resource for anyone out there who wants to know more about eating fresh.

The great thing is that she even has a book coming out really soon and trust me, you are going to want this book.  I went to a conference last summer and got to try some of her food and it was as fresh and delicious as you could ever hope for.

To help everyone out there to have a chance to get the book Melissa is having a pre-sale until this coming Friday, September 10th.

You can get the book through for only $12.95 (after pre-sale it is still only $15.95 so it is still totally affordable).

You can find out more about the book and Melissa on her blog.  Here is what Melissa had to say about the book:

This is a beautiful little cookbook full of fresh recipes that will please you and your family. It's got a beautiful glossy cover filled with photos and beautiful illustrations as well as several pages of facts about the nourishing foods included in the recipes. The paper is thick with a "raw" texture and the layout is extraordinary. You'll find six sections: light meals, desserts, salads, salsas, sauces and dips and smoothies, all fresh and delicious. My favorites are the famous Thai Nut Sauce, Lime Mousse, Winter Tomato Sauce, Raspberry Basil Smoothie, and the No Bake No Bake Chocolate Cookies and, well, I like all the recipes and I think you will, too.
I'll be at the American Fork Good Earth on September 18th from 11am-4pm to sign copies and give out free vanilla and chocolate covered macaroons! If you purchase a cookbook here (at the discounted presale price), you can pick it up that day or you may pay for shipping and we'll ship it to you. Just be sure to include your name and address.

Here is the link to Melissa's blog where you can buy the book!

Now, on to the Peach Cinnamon Vanilla Crumb Bars.

Peaches were plentiful at the Farmer's Market here this past week and for me that usually means making jam.  I bought enough peaches to make a small batch of jam, but then two out of three kiddos got sick and all my good intentions fell apart.  Jam isn't difficult or hard to make, but it does take some watching. By the time I had a chance to use these peaches I decided to take them in a different direction this time around.  I guess that means I'll just have to try to get some more peaches this week.

I was reminded when my feed email from Smitten Kitchen showed up in my inbox this week with Peach Shortbread that I had recently seen a version of the Blueberry Crumb Bars Deb posted a while back turned into a peach version over at Annie Eats.  I love me some peach cobbler and I really love crumb bars so I really wanted to try them out.  I think all these versions are quite probably completely fabulous, but since I can never leave well enough alone I knew I wanted to fiddle around with these recipes and came up with my own version.

So, to save time, I've added links to all the similar bars down below the recipe.  That way, you can decide what direction you want to go.  I would say that my version is closest to a cross between a couple of the recipes, but you'll just have take a look and decide what appeals to you.

I knew that I really wanted to incorporate two of my favorite flavors to pair with peaches - cinnamon and vanilla.  I also can't resist the warm sweetness of brown sugar.  The other change I wanted to make was to increase the amount of crust to filling ratio.  Now, it may be just me and my actual lack of love for too much baked fruits, but you could easily just increase your peaches a little bit and have a thicker fruit flavor.  The bars themselves ended up being just what I hoped for and all the flavors came through nicely.  It was like having a wonderful slice of peach cobbler or crumb topped peach pie that I could eat on the go - or even for breakfast.


Peach Vanilla Cinnamon Crumb Bars

For the peach vanilla cinnamon filling:
6 cups peeled, chopped fresh peaches (about 7 peaches)
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons cornstarch (optional)

For the crust and crumbs:
4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 sticks (20 tablespoons or 1 1/4 cups) cold, unsalted butter cut into chunks
1 large egg

Make the peach filling first:  In a large pan, stir together the chopped peaches, sugar, the vanilla bean seeds and the split bean pod, and the cinnamon.  Stir well to combine and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Turn the heat down and allow to simmer about 30 minutes until the juices have mostly thickened.  You can stop at this point with a little juice, or if you like a thicker filling, stir in the cornstarch and simmer for 2 minutes more until the peach filling is thick.  Remove the filling from the heat and allow to cool to about room temperature.

(Note: This peach filling is also wonderful in crepes or on pancakes or waffles.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Lightly spray a 9x13-inch baking pan and line it with a piece of parchment so that the parchment makes a sling in the pan with the edges hanging up and out the long sides of the pan.  Crease the parchment into the bottom corner of the pan to help keep it in place.  Spray the parchment lightly to make sure everything is well greased.  Set the pan aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment stir together the flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt.  On low speed, add the butter chunks and beat until the mixture is very crumbly and the butter is cut in.  You can do all this by hand if you prefer using your fingertips or a pastry blender to run the butter into the flour until the mixture is crumbly with the largest chunks about pea-sized.  Add the egg on low speed (or use a fork) until the mixture is crumbly and combined and when squeezed just holds together.

Press about half of the dough mixture into the bottom of the greased pan evenly and pressing into the corners and edges (do not go up the sides of the pan).

Spread the mostly cooled peach filling evenly over the crust in the pan.  Squeeze the remaining crumbs in the bowl lightly to just make bigger crumbs and chunks and scatter that crust over the peach filling.

Bake the bars for 40 to 45 minutes or until the top is light golden brown.  Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan.  Use the parchment sling to remove the entire bar from the pan and onto a cutting board.  Use a sharp knife to cut into squares or rectangles (makes about 24 to 30 bars depending on how big or small you cut them).

Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.  Great as a breakfast treat or after school snack or make it a real dessert with a little vanilla ice cream and some caramel topping.

Similar Recipes:
Brown Butter Peach Bars - Big Sur Cookbook (originally linked via Smitten Kitchen as well)



Fallon said...

Yum! I like how this recipe emphasizes on the vanilla and cinnamon, while the peaches should be the main star.

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

I remember seeing both those versions. I tend to do the same, pick up 2-3 recipes and create one out of them. The bars look wonderful, just wish I had come peaches~

The Bentley Family and Aussiemuminthekitchen said...

MUST MAKE THESE! Can't get enough of peach recipes right now after your phemomenal peach tart! Still dreaming about it. I can't even look at a peach without wanting to devor another slice!


Sherry G said...

I love the peach filling recipe as it can be used for many things. These bars look fabulous. What great flavor combinations!

Joanne said...

That cookbook sounds superb! I'm all about fresh eats.

I saw both the SK recipe and the Annie's Eats recipe...both looked amazing, as does yours! I love the peach and vanilla combo. It really can't be beat!

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