Brown Butter Peach Crumble Squares

Peachy!  Those marvelous and so juicy that they drip down your arm when you take a bite peaches are in season!  Huzzah!

At great effort and with way too many steps to count (64), I headed over to the weekly farmer's market held in the library's parking lot.   Besides the usual local peppers (available in many Scovil persuasions),  local tomatoes and local corn,  juicy ripe local peaches were for sale as well.  By local, I mean anything from a 5 minute or so walk down the road to a 1/2 hour car trip across the state.  The peachy keen (sorry) dish I wanted to make called for only 4. But I'd rather have too many than too few, so I bought a few extra.  Not that they'd go to waste, of course.  Well, maybe to waist ...

I carefully selected what I thought were medium-sized peaches.  Jersey peaches must be HUGE compared to the ones used in the original recipe, since my measuring cup done runneth over after carving up the first 3.  Hey, everything's bigger in Jersey ... deal with it.

Tip Alert!  Use freestone peaches if you can.  Turns out the ones I bought were clingstones, which is an understatement, like saying the Grand Canyon is deep.  

The original recipe called for greasing AND flouring the pan.  I forgot the flouring part, but since I had first lined the pan with foil to make it easier to remove and transport to work it wasn't a problem.  If you plan on serving straight from the pan, omit the foil and remember the flour, about a tablespoon's worth. 

These squares were made with butter, but if you need a parve version feel free to substitute margarine. Margarine browns at a different temperature than butter, but either way don't go doing other chores during this step.  Speaking of which, for some reason my butter refused to brown.  White specks floated and foamed, but they absolutely refused to sink and brown.  Since my track record on browning usually consists of almost brown ... almost brown ...BURNT!, I gave up and blipped over to the next step.  The squares were delicious anyway.

Brown Butter Peach Crumble Squares
very slightly adapted from: How Sweet It Is
makes about 12 squares

1 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup unbleached flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
cooking spray
1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter
3-4 ripe, medium-sized peaches

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, oats, salt and cinnamon.  Those aren't chocolate chips in the bowl.  I had a bit of a fight with a brick of brown sugar and the sugar won (next time I'll take time to nuke the sugar a bit to soften it up).   Set bowl aside.

Line an 8×8 (2 quart) baking pan with foil, leaving several inches or so of foil to hang over, then lightly grease foil with cooking spray. Set pan aside as well.

Peel peaches.  Tip Alert!  To make the skin easier to peel, boil up some water.  Use at least a 2 quart saucepan, not the 1 quart as I did in the above photo.  When the water starts to simmer, immerse one peach at a time and let it simmer for about 30 seconds, give or take.  If you used too small a pot, simmer 30 seconds a side.

Remove peach from it's hot water bath, and gently submerse in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. 

Fish out the cooled fruit.  It should now be rather easy to peel by hand, but use a peeler if it fights you.

Repeat with the remaining peaches.  Start slicing.  Is this gorgeous or what?  Admire the lovely tinged edges, then continue to slice and dice (or chop) until you get around 2 cups of approximately 1/2 inch cubes. 

This is how full the measuring cup looked after only 3 peaches --  slightly over 2 cups.  

Leave as is or eat the excess, your choice.  Set the chopped peaches aside as well.

Heat a 1 quart saucepan over medium heat.  Warning:  if you are re-using the 1 quart saucepan that you shouldn't have used earlier, dry it thoroughly to avoid major splattering.  The ceiling you don't have to scrub on your hands and knees may be your own. Add the butter and stir (to prevent scorching).

Eventually the butter will start to bubble. As soon as you see also small brown specks at the bottom of the melted butter, remove pan from heat.  This is supposed to take around 3 minutes ... I gave up after 5.  You can see the white bits in the center that stubbornly refused to brown.

Pour the not-browned butter (carefully leaving behind the brown bits if you were more successful than I), along with the vanilla, to the dry mixture. Stir up from the bottom until everything is pretty evenly moistened.

Gently fold in the peaches, then pour batter into the pan.  Press around with the back of a spoon to spread out the batter evenly.

Bake for 30-45 minutes or until the sides pull away from the pan edges, and the top stops bubbling and just begins to brown.  Kind of looks almost the same as before it began baking, but trust me, it's done.

Cut and serve warm or at room temperature. Can be kept covered in the fridge for a few days, or wrapped securely and frozen for up to a month.


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