Cinnamon Peach Preserves

This week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays was selected by Tessa of Cookin’ Chemist: cinnamon peach preserves.  Hard to believe, but it’s our second to last recipe with the group – in two weeks we’ll have one more post and then we’ll have baked through this entire book!  Granted, I skipped a few weeks, but it’s still pretty cool to have made even 75 or 80% of the recipes from any one cookbook.

This master preserves recipe is among my favorites from Melissa’s book.  It completely erased all of my preconceived ideas about the difficulty involved in making preserves at home.  The process really is as simple as cutting up fruit, adding a little sugar and citrus juice then boiling until it sets up.  Although the recipe calls for using a candy thermometer to monitor temperature, I definitely think you could make the preserves without one.  These cinnamon peach preserves are the 4th variation I’ve made using Melissa’s recipes (strawberry rhubarb, plum raspberry, and strawberry-ruby grapefruit were the previous three), and possibly my favorite.  Good peaches have been hard to come by here so the ones I used were definitely under-ripe but the finished product was still really flavorful.  The aroma of the cinnamon in my kitchen as the preserves cooked reminded me of making applesauce, and got me excited about the fall baking that is to come.

Peach Squares

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not someone who eats preserves – they’re mostly an ingredient used for baking in my kitchen.  The previous batches of preserves I’ve made with the group have been shared with family and friends, but I kept the cinnamon peach preserves and did some baking.  These raspberry squares are one of my very favorite recipes on this site – they’re super simple to whip up with a short list of ingredients you probably have on hand.  It was an easy swap to replace the raspberry preserves with the cinnamon peach, and the end result was just as delicious.

Many thanks to Tessa for hosting this week!  She shared the recipe on her blog today or you can find it on pages 165-166 of The Sweet Melissa Baking Book.  I’m including the recipe for the peach squares below as well in case you want to give them a try!

Peach Squares

Peach Squares
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

1 1/2 cups (7.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups quick-cooking oats
1/3 cup (2.3 oz) sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened but still cool
1 cup peach preserves

Preheat oven to 350 F with a rack in the lower third.  Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on opposite sides.  Use a second piece of aluminum foil to line the pan, perpendicular to the first, and again, leave an overhang on opposite sides.  These “handles” will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan after they bake.  Spray the foil thoroughly with nonstick cooking spray.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, oats, sugars, baking soda, salt, and nuts at low speed until combined, about 30 seconds.  With the mixer still on low speed add the pieces of butter to the bowl and continue to beat until the mixture is well-blended and resembles wet sand, about 2 minutes.

Transfer 2/3 of this mixture to the prepared baking pan.  Use your fingers to press the mixture to form an even layer in the bottom of the pan.  Bake this bottom crust until it starts to brown, about 20 minutes.  Using a rubber spatula, immediately spread the preserves evenly over the hot crust.  Sprinkle the remainder of the oat/nut mixture evenly over preserves.  Put the pan back in the oven and bake until the preserves bubble around the edges and the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely (at least 1 1/2 hours).  Once cool, use the foil “handles” to remove the bars from the pan.  Cut into about 1 1/2-inch squares.

Makes about 25 squares

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