While I don’t have room in my back yard for a vegetable garden (or the green thumb for it), I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful farmer’s market just a few blocks from my house every Saturday. It’s one of the best farmer’s markets in the area, with just about anything you could want. Local produce, meats, cheeses, flowers, baked goods, and even coffee.
The market is always busy when it’s open, but doesn’t usually have long lines for any of the individual vendors. Until peach season, that is.
There are always at least 6 vendors that have fresh peaches once they are in season. And many of those vendors probably have some delicious peaches, but I will never know. Because everyone knows that the place to get peaches is Branstool Orchards. You know when the Branstool truck is at the market, because you can see the people lining up.
The other vendors with peaches have lots of other produce too. And no long lines. Yet the Branstool truck, which sells nothing but peaches, always has at least 30 people in line. We wait for those peaches. They’re worth it.
I purchased a quarter peck of peaches one week, and took one with me for lunch each day. My husband didn’t try one until Wednesday evening, and quickly discovered what he was missing. That peach was so good, so sweet and juicy and perfect, that he immediately ate a second. The next day they were gone.
So the following Saturday, I stood in line again for those peaches. I was planning on another quarter peck, but after spending my 20 minute wait talking to others in line about baking with peaches and peach recipes, I was inspired. I bought a full peck.
Then I got home and admitted to myself that I had a ridiculous number of peaches. Fortunately, I had an event coming up and I needed to make some desserts.
Something about peach cake or cupcakes wasn’t really calling to me. But cheesecake was. Cheesecake and bourbon.
I had a recipe for mini cheesecakes that worked well, and began searching for a bourbon peach topping. I started with a recipe for Bourbon Poached Peaches from Martha Stewart, but I was disappointed. The syrup was too thin for a cheesecake topping. More importantly, I couldn’t really taste the bourbon.
So I adjusted her recipe, adding corn starch to thicken the syrup, and adding the bourbon at the end so it didn’t have as much time to cook out. I also added a little more bourbon. Who doesn’t want more bourbon in their peaches?
Bourbon Peach Topped Mini Cheesecakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart
For the Crust
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling
1 pound cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners. Mix together graham cracker crumbs, 1/3 cup sugar, and melted butter. Place 1 tablespoon of crust mixture in each liner, and press down. A spice jar works well for this. Bake for 6-7 minutes or until golden brown, and let cool. Lower oven temperature to 275 degrees.
In the bowl of the electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla, mixing until combined. Add the eggs one at a time with the mixer running. Mix in sour cream and salt until thoroughly combined.
Pour batter into liners on top of crust, and bake 20 minutes. Centers should be slightly wobbly. Let cool, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set – approximately 4 hours. You can remove them from the pan, or freeze the cheesecakes for later use at this point.
Bourbon Peach Topping
6 large peaches
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup bourbon, divided
1 Tablespoon corn starch
Place a large pot of water on to boil. While the water is heating, prepare an ice bath. Cut an X into the bottom of each peach, just piercing the skin. Place each peach in boiling water for 1 minute, and then transfer to the ice bath to cool slightly.
Slice each peach in half and remove the pit. Then peel off the skin. Trust me, you want to do it in this order. Trying to remove pits from slippery, skinless peaches will result in some mangled fruit. It’s much easier with the skin still on.
Slice the peaches into 1/2-inch wedges.
In a clean pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the sugar and vanilla beans or extract, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the peaches, and 1/2 cup of the bourbon. Simmer until the peaches are tender, about 7 minutes.
Remove the peaches with a slotted spoon and set aside. Continue to cook the syrup for about 15 minutes, until it’s reduced by half, stirring frequently. Remove vanilla bean pods, if using.
In a small dish, dissolve the corn starch in a little bit of water, to avoid clumping. Add the corn starch and the remaining 1/2 cup of bourbon to the pot, and simmer for one more minute until it thickens.
At this point, you can add additional corn starch if you want thicker syrup.
Pour the syrup over the peaches and allow to cool. Store in the refrigerator in a covered container.
To assemble, put two peach slices and a spoonful of syrup on top of each cheesecake.