Peachy Cheesecake Tart...

Peach season is upon us!  Praise the heavens for peaches, they are here!  I have been the queen of peaches this year.  I get to harvest them day after day, and believe me, I love it.  The perk of the job is that I get to eat a few tree ripened peachy orbs of flavor every day, and it's glorious!  Juice dripping down your arm and chin, life doesn't get any more perfect.

MONSTER PEACH!  1.1 lbs or 18 oz of peachy goodness that I picked at the Research Farm.
I had a little reason to celebrate today.  A second paper of mine is being published.  Nothing huge, just a reference for home gardeners on how to grow currants.  Still a reason to celebrate, and I needed something to celebrate with, preferably something peachy!  My boss passed a recipe to me earlier in the week and it seemed perfect: a creamy, peachy, almost no-bake cheesecake.  I cleaned it up a bit, took out a lot of the sugar and the whipped topping and added some good stuff, mainly cream and vanilla bean.  It turned out wonderful, my little farmhands loved it.  Best of all it is topped with peaches!

backyard farmgals

9 cinnamon graham crackers, ground
1/4 cup melted butter 
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped
2 tbsp milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream combined with 1/4 cup powdered sugar, whipped to stiff peaks
4-5 very ripe peaches
1/8 cup sugar
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tsp no/low sugar pectin (Ball New Formula)
Freshly grated nutmeg

To make the crust:  Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Combine the graham cracker crumbs and the melted butter.  Press the mixture into the bottom of a 4.5 x 14-inch tart pan.  Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes until edges just begin to brown.  Set in the refrigerator to chill.  (You can simply press the crust in the pan and then refrigerate, skipping the baking, but the crispy crunch you get from baking the crust is very worth the oven time.)

To make the filling:  In an electric mixture fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar and mix until combined. Add milk and vanilla bean and mix again.  To the whipped cream and powdered sugar add 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture and very carefully fold the two together.  Add the remaining cream cheese mixture in thirds and continue to fold until just combined.

Remove tart pan with crust from the refrigerator.  Add the cream cheese mixture on top of the crust.  Smooth out the mixture, making sure to fill the edges.  I make a slight depression in the center of the tart and taper it up toward the edges, making a groove that the peaches can sit in.  Return the tart to the refrigerator to set.

To make the peach topping:  Peel and dice 4 to 5 extremely ripe peaches and place in a mixing bowl.  Add juice from 1/2 lemon and 1/8 cup of sugar.  Allow the fruit to sit and macerate for 20-30 minutes.  Strain the fruit from the juice, reserving the juice, you should have about 1/4 cup (you can add orange juice to make the volume if needed).  Put the juice in a small sauce pan, add 2 tsp of pectin and bring to a boil until it just starts to thicken (if you need more pectin, add it and whisk it in until it thickens).  Remove from heat and place in the refrigerator to chill.  The mixture should thicken as it cools.  Once cool, mix it into the peaches.

Assemble the tart by piling the peaches into the center of the tart.  Add freshly grated nutmeg to the top.  Slice into serving sized pieces and serve.  Or just grab a fork and go to town.  It's okay, I won't tell...


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