Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Peaches To The Rescue

I was looking through my computer file where I store my food photos, and although I have a quite a pile that I haven't yet posted, the number that are actually any good is running low. Many of my day-to-day munchies are actually pretty drab to look at. I think I should get imaginative about how to display them in order to make them look appealing. I did, at one point, manage to set up an at-home studio - albeit a makeshift one. Much to my amusement/chagrin, it quickly became a haven for my Ozzy.
He is such an attention hog sometimes.

Now all I need to do is convince him that he needs to stay away from little contraption, then figure out a way to pretty it up with different colored backgrounds. Or should I just use white posterboard/chart-paper on the inside? Any ideas?

When I came across this recipe for Peach Brown Butter Bars on Tennessee Locavore's blog, I knew it would be lip-smackingly good, but when it came to looks, I foresaw a whole lot of beige and brown. Not exactly the photo-op I was hoping for. But then I dug deeper with my camera lens, and discovered that there's beauty in brown. It is, after all, the color of caramel ... something that's brought me to my knees many times before!
Peachy Keen Brown Butter Bars (original recipe found here)
Serves 8

Click here for printable recipe

Ingredients for the crust:
7 tbsp butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 tbsp all purpose flour
Pinch of salt

Ingredients for the filling:
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
4 peaches, peeled and sliced

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Using a little butter, grease an 8" x 8" baking pan, then line with parchment paper (both ends should hang out - to use as handles later!) and butter that too.

2. For the crust: Using a rubber spatula, mix the sugar, butter and vanilla in a bowl. Then add the flour and salt. Fold the dry ingredients in completely, till a dough forms.
3. Transfer the dough to your baking pan. Using your fingers and knuckles, press the dough so that it's evenly distributed across the bottom of the pan.
4. Bake for about 15 minutes, till crust is golden. Put pan on a rack and cool slightly.

5. For the filling: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. You want to cook it until it's a deep brown - should take around 5-10 mins. Do NOT walk away to watch a clip of The View on your TV! The butter may burn, and then how will you face Barbawa Wawa again?!

6. Whisk eggs, salt, sugar and vanilla in a bowl (or in your fancy schmancy KitchenAid stand mixer). Add flour and whisk until smooth. Very slowly drizzle in the browned butter until smooth and completely blended.
7. Arrange two layers of peach slices on the pre-baked crust.

8. Pour the brown butter mixture carefully over the fruit. Bake bars for 40-45 mins till golden and puffed. Cool bars completely on rack, then cut into square and serve. Try a couple out for yourself first - quality control, of course!

Verdict: Browning the butter was a small challenge, because I have just about the same patience as a 5 year old in the kitchen. But it was so worth it! You could definitely taste the nuttiness and warmth of the butter in these bars. By the way, that simple shortbread crust was divine. My only regret is that my peaches were not as sweet as I wanted them to be. I'll definitely make this again with the sweeter, golden peaches, rather than the white flesh ones. It didn't seem to make a difference to my friends though, who happily gobbled up these little bites of sunshine in one go. Great with tea or coffee. Oh, however, if you're feeling selfish, you might want to stash away the corner pieces for a personal midnight snack - those slightly darkened bits are my favorites.
Mmmmm. crispy, curly edges with a pillowy soft center.

If it's not too late, I think I'll submit this recipe to Meeta's Monthly Mingle: High Tea event, hosted by Aparna over at My Diverse Kitchen. I think these decadent little bars would make even the Queen lose her composure.