Happy Labor Day!
I’m not ready to give up summer just yet. I’m still stuck on the summer time cuisine: crisp salads, ice cream, strawberries and watermelon. And peach crisp. Or, in my world, these Peach Bourbon Crumble Bars.
Generally speaking, Labor Day marks the end of summer and the inexorable transition in to fall. Green leaves slowly, majestically turn to burnished gold and brick red. The unbearable heat gives way to cool, crisp weather. Kids return to school and football season begin. You stop wearing white because someone, at some point, decided that it was not okay to wear white after Labor Day. Wait, who does that anymore?
But most excitingly (at least for me), is the beginning of Autumn cooking. Hearty root vegetable stews with large chunks of crusty sourdough bread. Shiny pumpkin pie with loads of fluffy whipped cream (I told you I like some things fluffy). Just the comforting smell of warm spices as you enter the house after a chilly day.
So don’t get me wrong. I love Autumn and all the fantastic baking that goes with it. In fact, I am a pumpkin freak. Trust me, you will be tired of hearing about pumpkin before the year is out.
Its just that I’m not ready to give summer up quite yet. This last week the weather has been consistently in high 80s with 75% humidity. Nights cool down to a chilly 75F (yes, I’m being sarcastic. I wake up drenched in sweat several times a night. It’s gross. I’ll move on). Summer isn’t over in San Diego just yet.
So to pay homage to the unceasing summer weather, I made these Peach Bourbon Crumble Bars for a house warming party over the weekend.
In my mind, these bars began as peach coffee cake muffins but quickly morphed in to something more dessert-like (because I like dessert, you knew this). Now, personally, I adore peach crisp, but I wanted something slightly less, well, messy. Something that didn’t require serving utensils or plates or forks.
Brown Eyed Baker provided a perfect solution (seriously, I might be a little obsessed with her blog) in her Peach Crumb Bars. But of course, I can’t leave any recipe unaltered, so I’ve made a few changes. Firstly, when I initially made these, I had a small issue with her proportions so I changed them to my liking. Secondly, I prefer the more dense, chewy, oat-filled crisp to the softer, oat-less crumble, so my topping is much more “crisp” like. Thirdly, I’ve added bourbon whiskey, both to the fruit and on top in glaze form. Because that’s what I do.
Despite some initial worries I had while making them (see my notes in the recipe), these turned out fantastic. The bottom layer is soft and cakey and not too sweet. The peach layer is tender, but not mushy, and sweet with the barest smokey notes from the whiskey. The crisp topping turned out to be my favorite part. It’s crumbly with big pieces of oaty, buttery goodness, but doesn’t fall apart in your hand. The whiskey glaze adds another layer of depth with its vanilla and smoke flavors.
So I hope you enjoy my Peach Bourbon Crumble Bars at your next summer (or “almost fall”) party! Or any time really. :)
Peach Bourbon Crumble Bars (adapted from Peach Crumb Bars)
Makes approximately 24 2X2 inch bars
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- .5 cup granulated sugar
- .5 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- .5 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut in to 1/4 inch cubes
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 5 cups diced peaches, peeled (about 6 peaches)
- 1 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup whiskey
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 Tb cornstarch
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cup oatmeal
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut in to 1/4 inch cubes
- Preheat oven to 375F and grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
- For the bottom layer: Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
- Use a pastry blender or a fork to cut in butter (I gave up and used my washed hands for this step). Mix in egg. Set aside.
- For the filling: In a separate bowl, gently mix the diced peaches with lemon juice and whiskey.
- In a small bowl, mix flour, corn starch, sugar, salt, and spices. Sprinkle over peaches and mix gently.
- For the crumble topping: Mix together flour, oatmeal, brown sugar and salt. Use a pastry blender or fork to cut in butter until it resembles heavy crumbs (again, I used my hands to squeeze together crumbs).
- To assemble: Press the bottom dough mixture in to the 9X13 in an even layer. Pour peach filling evenly over top. Crumble the top layer over the filling mixture. *Note*
- Bake in preheated oven 45 minutes until the crisp topping is golden brown and the peach filling bubbles.
- Cool completely. Drizzle with Bourbon Glaze then cut in to squares.
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 Tb whiskey
- 2 Tb maple syrup
- Whisk together sugar, whiskey and maple syrup until smooth. Drizzle over cooled peach bars.
*Note* If the bottom dough layer is really sticky and doesn’t look like there is enough to cover the bottom of the pan, don’t panic. This is normal. Use a soft spatula coated in cooking spray or butter to press the dough out and smooth in to all the corners. Even if there are a few small bald patches, you will be fine.