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Author Notes: I like this recipe for early season peaches, which--although I keep buying them by the armful at the market--aren't perfectly ripe yet. Blending the vanilla bean and the lime zest into the sugar ensures that every bite is as flavorful and balanced as the last. (I got the idea to infuse vanilla into sugar from 101 Cookbooks, and the idea to shake the crisp with a bit of water from Nigel Slater.) —Cristina Sciarra
- 8 medium peaches (fresh, but not too ripe)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/4 cup golden sugar
- 1 small vanilla bean
- the zest of 1 lime
- 1/2 cup golden sugar
- 1 1/3 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- Heat oven to 375°F.
- Wash, peel and segment the peaches. Move them to a mixing bowl, along with the lime juice, and 1/4 cup of the golden sugar; toss to coat the peaches. Set the bowl aside.
- Make the vanilla-lime sugar: Cut the vanilla bean into small, 1/2-inch-ish pieces, and move them to the bowl of a food processor. Zest the lime right into the food processor. (Since my vanilla bean was a bit dried out, I whizzed the vanilla and lime zest alone for a good 2-3 minutes, then added the 1/2 cup sugar.) Blitz the sugar with the vanilla and lime zest, until the vanilla bean is largely broken down into flecks and small shards. (Don’t stress if you’re left with tiny pieces of vanilla bean–these will break down in cooking and become soft.) Scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl every so often, as the vanilla bean and lime zest have a tendency to travel up the sides of the bowl, away from the sugar. (You can make this sugar several days ahead, and store it in an airtight container.)
- Empty the flour, the salt, and the butter into a large bowl. Use your fingers to make small "pebbles". Add the vanilla-lime sugar, and keep smushing with your fingers, until the mix resembles wet sand. Scatter 1-2 tablespoons of cold water into the bowl, and shake it around: this should give you different sized crumbles.
- Empty the peaches into a casserole or baking dish. Top the peaches with the crisp topping. Move the dish to the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the crisp is a shade darker, and the peaches are bubbling. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream, if you like.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Buckle, Slump, Grunt, Crumble, Cobbler, Crisp, Sonker, Pandowdy, and/or Betty