Saturday, September 21

Peachy-Shortbread Bars

First of all, please forgive the terrible picture. I mean really?
But trust, read the ingredients, and trust.
I created these bars yesterday, quite unexpectedly, and in response to an impromptu grocery store trip. I went in for quinoa, and came out with quinoa, peanut butter(cuz you can NEVER have too much), butter(ditto) and the most beautiful peaches I have ever purchased. For real. They made it into my basket after a drive-by squeezing. Ya know, when you walk through the produce and haphazardly start grabbing fruit to tell if its worthy of purchase. I spotted these glorious bright yellow "South Carolina" peaches first, and gave them a squeeze only to discover that they were hard as a rock. I wrinkled my nose and made a "ugh, figures" face....because I am a food snob like that. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a display, furthest from the produce mind you, exhibiting pretty plums and huge, juicy looking peaches. I buzzed straight over, grabbed one, perfect, and immediately began filling my bag. No clue what I was going to make, but I knew I could figure something out once I got home.
My first thought was pie! Of course! But then I remembered that not only am I a food snob who prefers to make her own crust, I am a brat who didn't feel like waiting for dough to chill. Just the facts. Then my mind wandered to bars! Yes, bars! Chuck loves anything in bar form, brownies, cookie cakes, cheesecake bars, etc. So that's settled, I was making bars. I started perusing recipes from some of my favorite bloggers and didn't find anything that really spoke to me. Ugh. So what's a girl with pounds of peaches to do? Make one up!
They had to have a great crust, so I decided on a thick shortbread recipe. Thick, cuz I love me some crust. I could just eat crust. I don't need any filling, just crust people. I wanted to make the topping more like a crisp, so I came up with a wonderfully nutty cover to accent the beautiful peaches. Enjoy!

Yield: 1 9x13 pan....quite a few servings depending on how you slice it! Not that hungry? Half it and bake it in a 9x9 square pan...or cake pan..whatever you have!

Shortbread Crust:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into tablespoons
1 egg, lightly beaten

Peach Filling:
6 cups diced, peeled peaches.(Mine where really big, and each one made 1 cup when diced.)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for 1 hour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup flour
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
1-2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and coat a 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
For the crust: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the first 4 crust ingredients. Pulse a few times until everything is mixed. With the food processor on, start dropping the cold butter in, one tablespoon at a time, until the butter has incorporated. Add the egg and pulse until the mixture resembles sand. Pour the crust into the prepared pan, covering the bottom, and press to make it uniform. Place in the fridge to chill about 30 minutes while you prepare the peaches. Note: if you don't have a food processor, you can easily use a pastry cutter, or your fingers.
For the filling: Place peeled, diced peaches in a bowl, and add all other ingredients. Toss to coat. Pour the filling mixture over the crust, and use a spatula to create an even layer. For the topping: If you used a food processor for the crust, simply wipe it out, and use it again for this step. If you did not, then a pastry cutter or your fingers should work fine. In the bowl of the food processor, combine; oats, flour, pecans, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Pulse to incorporate. Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition. It should look rather clumpy. Cover the peach filling with the oat topping. Clumps are great! It doesn't have to be perfectly is actually better when it's not:). Place in the oven, middle rack, and cook for 40-45 minutes.
I used a dark, ceramic baking dish, and it took all 45. If you are using metal or glass it may not take as long. Once the top is lightly browned it should be good to go!

Make the glaze:
In a medium mixing bowl, add the maple extract to the powdered sugar and stir it in. Then, working one teaspoon at a time, start whisking in milk until you achieve "drizzle" consistency. Too thin? Add more sugar. Too thick? Add more milk.
Cool on wire rack for an hour, then in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

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