Peach and chocolate crisp with almond topping

Peach, chocolate and almond crisp

In our first house together, we had a peach tree in the back yard. The peaches never ripened. They would fall to the ground, hard little stones, and rot into oddly beautiful, decadent green velvet balls. Steenbeck was a wild little puppy, then, and she’d play with the rotten fruit, throwing it around the yard and chasing it. I always wondered if the moldering green peach fuzz gave her strange dreams. I had such an odd dream this morning. I know it’s boring to read about other peoples’ dreams, so I’ll keep it quick. Like all the best dreams, it was a dizzying mix of anxiety and joy. It was dark, and we were in a strange town, on an empty lot. I was worried about Steenbeck, alone in one of the low houses that ran in rows off the lot, so I went to find her. Somebody told me she’d been taken somewhere safe, with people that would look after her till I could be with her. I turned back to see my family, playing at the edge of the lot. Then waves started crashing towards them. Gentle at first, and then higher and higher, as high as the buildings. They knocked the telephone poles down into the houses. I waited till the wave subsided, and started across the lot, and then a larger wave came. I wasn’t scared. The water was clear and golden green-grey. I felt that I could breathe, even in the water. And then I heard the waves singing. They each had their own bell-like tone. I was lifted higher than the buildings, but I didn’t worry. And then I woke up.

I love peaches! So plump and juicy and summery. The boys like them, too, and they like to choose them at the store. They’ll pick hard, unripe peaches, and then take little nibbles of them. You’ll say, “they’re not ripe yet, you have to wait.” An hour later, “Mom, are the peaches ripe yet?” “NO!” And then by the time they’re actually ripe, the boys have forgotten all about them. I had a few large, beautiful peaches, in danger of turning green and squishy, so I decided to make them into a crisp. This was so simple, and turned out so tasty, that I’m very pleased with it. You cut the fresh peaches, without even peeling them. Spread them onto a pie plate. Sprinkle some bittersweet chocolate chips over. Peaches and chocolate is not an oft-used combination, but they’re very good together! You divide two eggs (you’ll use both parts!) The yolks become a very simple custard, with rum and vanilla, and the whites are whipped stiff, and mixed with almonds to make a sort of amaretti-type of topping. It’s humid as hell here (I imagine hell would be very humid!) So the crisp didn’t stay crisp for long, but the almonds kept it nice and crunchy. You could put this in a pate sucree crust, and make a pie, but I liked the simplicity of it baked as it is.

Here’s Elmore James with Rollin and Tumblin. I love this song so much! I can hear the first chords from several rooms away, and it’s still thrilling. And if you don’t want his peaches, don’t shake his tree!

3 large ripe peaches (or 4 smaller ripe peaches)
1 scant cup bittersweet chocolate chips
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup milk
2 T flour
1 T rum
2 t vanilla paste or essence
1 cup almonds, ground quite fine
pinch salt
2/3 cup sugar, divided half and half (I used raw sugar, but white sugar would be fine as well)

Preheat the oven to 375.

Cut the peaches into bite-sized chunks. Remove the pits. Spread the peaches onto a buttered pie plate. Sprinkle the chocolate over them.

Separate the eggs. Whisk the yolks with flour, rum, vanilla, milk, 1/3 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt. Pour this mixture over the peaches.

Whisk the whites till they’re quite stiff. Fold in the almonds, a pinch of salt, and the remaining 1/3 cup sugar. Spread this mixture over the peaches and custard.

Bake for 20 – 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown all over.

Let cool.

Eat with lightly whipped cream flavored with vanilla, or with vanilla ice cream. Or just as it is, for breakfast!!

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