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end-of-season peach cobbler with coconut ice cream

Posted Jun 05 2009 5:07pm

I could just about cry over this cobbler and that's because today was the last day of the farmer's market this year and that means there's a long cold autumn and winter and spring and part of a summer ahead of us before there will be more peaches. I am determined - determined, I tell you! - to avoid falling into the trap of buying very out-of-season food from far away during this winter. We have stored a lot of local food from the market. There is a local farm with an off-season food stand every Monday, close enough for a bus. There is every root vegetable, plus greens, cabbage, apples, pears and cranberries to eat throughout the winter. There are also frozen peaches...but you just can't get a cobbler like this from frozen peaches.

(That doesn't mean I won't try.)

The truth is that after a summer of pounds of pounds of sink peaches (by which I mean peaches so juicy, so tender, so ripe, you have to eat them over the sink), I don't think I'll even be tempted by those hard pale supermarket peaches that never ripen properly, ever, because the only good peach is a tree-ripe peach. Now pears are another story. We didn't stock up on pears at the market because they just weren't a priority. But pears have to be picked before they're ripe and they generally ripen just fine at home. So we'll revert to our old standard of trying to buy regionally if local food isn't available so we can have pears this winter. But we should still be able to maintain a mostly local diet as far as produce is concerned; unfortunately, no dry staples are produced in Utah that I can find, like rice or oats or beans, so we'll continue to get these from a farm in Oregon, or (sigh) Whole Foods. But most of our produce will hopefully come from our storage or a local farm.

I am so bummed at the thought of having to do my produce shopping at Whole Foods again. We've visited the market almost every week this season and it's just such a pleasure to buy food at the market. The experience could not be more different. Shopping at a grocery store seems so dismal and impersonal now, and I'm not excited about it. I bought out my favorite farming family of all of their herbs today and I was near tears as I said, "See you next year!" Yes, near tears. I have low standards for excitement, folks.

Okay, so all this talk about local food and now I'm going to discuss this ice cream, which is based on a food that is not available within the continental US. Coconut milk makes the best non-dairy ice cream, hands down. I've tried so many other varieties and I always come back to this one. I also enjoy ice cream made from nuts like cashews and macadamias, but that is definitely a more expensive method. Coconut milk has the richness you need for a good ice cream because of its high fat content. It doesn't impart much of a coconut flavor, if any, to the final product, so it's a good medium for most any variety of ice cream.

Purely Decadent, a brand of vegan ice cream, has recently developed a line of coconut milk-based ice cream, but I'm telling you, I thought of it first. I await my royalties, friends. Oh, how I wait.

I've tried this ice cream so here is a perfunctory review. I thought it was...fluffy, which was kind of a weird texture, and it was too smooth. I like my ice cream with a bit of texture. I also thought it was too sweet and it lacked a depth of flavor that's only available in homemade ice cream. But if you want a store-bought ice cream that is relatively unprocessed as well as being dairy-, gluten- and soy-free, it's a good option. It definitely had a better flavor than the Rice Dream variety of ice cream, but the other ice creams in the Purely Decadent line are better, in my opinion, than this one. I'd probably buy it if I was in a pinch, because it's less processed and suitable for people who have a soy allergy or phobia, but otherwise, I'd rather make my own. Coconut milk does make an excellent ice cream without having to add many other ingredients or heavily process it.

I really enjoy coconut ice cream with peaches, but if you'd rather make a plain, more traditional vanilla ice cream, simply omit the coconut extract, increase the vanilla extract to 1 T., and leave out the shredded coconut. I do not have a good picture of the ice cream with the cobbler because I am not a patient person. I didn't wait for the ice cream to freeze through so when I applied it to the hot cobbler, it completely dissolved. It does freeze up very nicely, however.

peach cobbler:
5 peaches, peeled and sliced

1/4 c. sucanat or brown sugar
2 T. cornstarch
2 T. lemon juice
1 T. coconut oil or Earth Balance spread, melted, or other oil
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. ginger
pinch of salt

1 c. whole-wheat pastry flour
1 t. unrefined sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. cold coconut oil or Earth Balance spread
1/3 c. plant milk

coconut ice cream:
15 oz. coconut milk
1/2 c. plant milk (for a stiffer cream, you can use silken tofu)
1/3 c. maple syrup
2 t. vanilla
1 1/2 t. coconut extract
1/2 c. unsweetened coconut, shredded

1. To make the ice cream, combine all ingredients in a blender and process until very smooth. Pour into a freezer-safe container. Stir the ice cream every hour or two for about six hours, until mostly frozen through. Then break up the ice cream and re-blend. Pour back into the container and freeze overnight. Leave out of the freezer for about 5 minutes before serving.

2. For the cobbler, preheat the oven to 400F. Spread the peach slices into the bottom of a greased square baking dish.

3. Combine the sucanat, starch, lemon juice, oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt in a small boil and whisk to combine. Pour over the peaches.

4. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a bowl and rub in the oil to create a crumbly texture.

5. Stir in the milk to create a dough. Do not overmix.

6. Drop the dough by large spoonfuls on top of the peaches. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the biscuits are lightly browned on top and clean when pierced with a fork.
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