This whole summer, I have been crushing hard on doughnut peaches. You might also know them by the names of Saturn peach, saucer peach, Chinese flat peach and many others that are all

indicative of this fruit’s squashed shape. It’s their size, though, that put them on my Paleo dessert radar as I came across a pile of baby ones at my local Whole Foods Market one day.

With the biggest peach being as small as 2 1/2 inches across, they looked absolutely adorable, and I had to have them.

doughnut peaches

doughnut peaches

donut peaches

Well, I knew already that when ripe, doughnut peaches were very sweet and juicy with a hint of almond. So I figured their natural sweetness and the peculiar shape have to pair up

for some sort of simple summer dessert with very little sugar added, if any at all. Unless the fruit you work with is very tart, I see no need at all to mask its natural sugars that are so

intricately tied in with the flavor.

ideas for donut peaches

I’d say doughnut peaches range in size from 2 1/2 inches in diameter to 3 and 3 1/2 (most commonly found) and even over 5. Over the summer I have laid my hands

on so many doughnut peaches of different sizes and colors that I am firmly convinced that since this peach species is gaining popularity, breeders are starting to cultivate new varieties.

And while I adore the blushing tones of regular doughnut peaches, their solid yellow counterparts make a great presentation as well. They also seem to possess a tougher flesh that makes

them tolerate heat a lot better.

fun with donut peaches

Not being a huge peach fan, Nicole, however, took to the doughnut kind immediately. They were small and nearly fuzz-less and looked UFO-ish.

But, above all, they looked like DOUGHNUTS, and I suddenly knew what was coming next. She asked me to cut a hole in them. I gasped for air as I tried to make head or tail of

the kids’ fascination with doughnut holes, racking my brains simultaneously as to how to salvage the mutilated fruit.

Have you ever made a mental note of how things come along so much easier when you stop resisting? And so, without a peep, I cut a hole in a bunch of them, trusting her vision.

Would you guess what she did with her first hole-y doughnut? She stared at me through the hole!

“Why in the world did I hole out a dozen peaches for this, Nicole? You need only two!” my previous frustration caught up with me.

She then squeezed some of her vanilla yogurt into the hole of that same doughnut, generously overflowing the edges, nonchalantly dropped a few raspberries off center and took a bite.

dougnut holes

There was no stopping her after that. The holies tasted great dipped in strawberry yogurt and sprinkled with loose red and champagne currants. Some other combos that Nicole tried

were blueberry yogurt and crushed granola, crème kefir and marionberries and, of course, a towering amount of freshly whipped vanilla bean cream that she piped on with

a decorator’s bag and a star tip. Quite a pro she’s becoming!

fun with doughnut holes

 

patrick's mountain grown fresh berry farmAnd I saw those pip-less peaches to be a great vessel to carry all sorts of fillings. For starters, cream. Regular or coconut. If you are allowed dairy, you can also experiment

with crème fraîche, crème kefir, farmer’s cheese, sour cream, quark and even cream cheese.  If not, stay with whipped coconut cream. It’s naturally sweet and doesn’t need any

interventions other than maybe a splash of vanilla extract or, better yet, a liberal touch of vanilla bean paste.  Then, decoratively arrange whatever fruit you have on hand and you will

have faux fresh fruit tarts in no time. No recipe needed.

berry picking tips

Coconut cream is currently another crush of mine. I mix my berries into it, I add it to my smoothies but more often than not I just scrape it out of the can with a big soup spoon.

It tastes cold and creamy underlined with coconut sweetness. I store a couple of cans of full-fat coconut milk and/or coconut cream in the fridge at all times while half the freezer is occupied

by the ice cream maker and a spare KitchenAid mixing bowl. Just like the dairy version, coconut cream whips best when your mixing bowl is thoroughly chilled. But, honestly, it’s on a

rare occasion that it makes its way into that conveniently chilled bowl.

berry picking with kids

applehill marionberries

The next batch of baby holies yielded blackberry and doughnut peach faux crostatas.  I filled the holes with a mixture of assorted crushed blackberries, lemon zest,

and a ton of  thyme leaves. Play with the ingredients until you get the right taste for you. A good starting point would be a cup of mixed blackberries, half a teaspoon to three quarters of

lemon zest, and 1 tablespoon of thyme leaves. I prefer to muddle everything with a fork but feel free to give it a quick spin in your mixer. The key here is not to make the filling too runny.

You still want berry chunks in it. After you have filled the holes, brush the sides of the peaches with ghee and bake in a preheated 400 F° oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until the berry

juices start to run and the skin on the peaches blisters. Serve with coconut whipped cream of course! Makes about a dozen.

patrick's blackberries

clockwise from top right: black currants, boysenberries, blackberries, marionberries

For the mixed blackberries, I used marionberries and boysenberries that we had u-picked and brought home from Patrick’s Mountain Grown Fresh Berry Farm in Apple Hill, Cali.

It was our second visit to this scenic homestead,and it looks like it’s going to turn into a much-looked-forward-to summer family tradition. On this trip we were lucky to meet the farmer,

Mr. Patrick himself, who engaged us into a pleasant conversion about his berry passion and fascination with the rare varieties.  Although he uses commercial fertilizer,

the outside shrubbery doesn’t see a drop of herbicide and pesticide.

You can imagine how the three of us just went at it. There are few things in life as sweet as a wholesome berry or a piece of fruit that’s just picked. The brightest memories

that I have of sweet things are not those of fancy desserts tried in European and American fine restaurants but of climbing trees as a child to pick the reddest cherry or the plumpest apricot

or the heaviest cluster of mulberries.

u-pick berry picking in california

blackberry u-pick in california

marionberry picking in california

golden raspberries

boysenberry picking in california

doughnut peaches

Now, the third batch got a little fancy. I filled the holes with fresh fig spread and topped the peaches with a crown of maple-vanilla meringue. To make the meringue, with an electric

mixer on medium-high speed, whisk 1/2 cup egg whites (from about 3 eggs), 1/2 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract and a pinch of Himalayan salt until frothy.

Add 3/4 cup powdered maple sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until stiff, glossy peaks form. Transfer the meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip or a plain coupler and pipe

onto the filled peaches, swirling the tops into a peak. Broil the peaches until the meringue is just beginning to color.

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faux fresh fruit tarts

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faux fig tartlets with maple-vanilla meringue caps

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As for the fresh fig spread, in a small electric mixer, combine 1 cup of fresh, ripe figs, 2 tablespoons orange juice, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon cardamom, and ground ginger from about 1/4 to 1/2-inch of fresh root. Pulse until the mixture is uniform and free of lumps. Stir in 1 tablespoon of black chia seeds and refrigerate overnight. This recipe will make about two dozen stuffed doughnut peaches with maple-vanilla meringue caps.

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blackberry and doughnut peach faux crostatas

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salted caramel peach doughnuts

I have found out that bigger-seized doughnut peaches make the yummiest peach doughnuts. Blanch your peaches in boiling water for about 30-40 seconds to remove the skin. Cut out the pit.

Coat with hazelnut meal/flour and cook slowly in a lot of brown butter until the hazelnut coating has browned and the peaches have softened up.  Serve with coconut caramel sauce and sea

salt flakes.

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vanilla bean and lime mixed fruit jam or the beginning of such

Have you ever looked through the hole of a doughnut peach? Try it. All good things start with a vision. Even if it’s your kid’s.