August is the mellow back stretch of summer. The shadows are lengthening, the sunlight seems softer, and the colors of the season are beginning to fade. It’s a bittersweet time, a mixture of the sadness of knowing summer is soon ending and the anticipation for the fresh start of a new school year.
One of the things I love most about August is the bounty of fruits and vegetables that come into season: sweet corn, blackberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes, plums, peppers. My favorite? Peaches. With velvety skin, a delicate fragrance, and richly variegated color, they satisfy more than just my taste buds.
Right now, the trees at the local orchard are so laden with peaches that their branches are grazing the ground. The orchard’s store is overflowing with bushels, pecks, and piles of the fuzzy fruit. Small signs admonish tempted patrons (like myself) to “please squeeze your sweetie, not the peaches. We bruise easily!” It’s very hard, but somehow I manage to keep my hands to myself.
I spend a lot of time at the orchard store because my family loves peaches. We eat them almost everyday when they are in season, pitted and peeled, with juice dripping off our fingers and down our chins. I also make jars of peach jam. There is nothing quite like the taste of fresh, ripe peaches spread on a biscuit or a slice of toast in the middle of winter.
The other day I had a hankering to do some baking. There were just a few lonely peaches sitting on the counter. Not enough for a cobbler or a crisp but just the right amount for some cookies. Ace and I spent an afternoon baking up these little cakey morsels of peach goodness. I mixed the dough and dropped the cookies. He mixed and sprinkled the cinnamon-sugar and taste-tested the results.
Martha Stewart (whose recipe we used) advises that the cookies are best if eaten the same day. Because eating four dozen cookies in one day is very bad, no matter how good the cookies or how appreciative or hungry the eaters, this recipe encourages sharing with the people near and dear to you. And sharing the quintessential flavor of late summer wrapped in a cinnamon-sugar-crusted cookie is almost as good a indulging in it yourself.
Fresh Peach Drop Cookies (adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies)
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large ripe peaches (about 8 ounces each), peeled, pitted, and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (1 3/4 cups)
1/3 cup peach jam or preserves
2 tablespoons fine sanding sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 375º F. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.
- Cream together butter and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add egg and vanilla; mix until well blended, about 1 minute. Add flour mixture and mix until combined. Add diced peaches and peach jam; mix until just combined.
- Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop or tablespoon, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. (Chill remaining dough between batches.)*
- Combine sanding sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle each cookie with 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake cookies until golden brown and just set, 11 to 13 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Cookies are best eaten the day they are made, but they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to two days.**
Makes 4 dozen cookies.***
* I recommend chilling the dough a bit (maybe fifteen minutes) before baking any cookies. They will spread less and will seem fluffier.
** These cookies really are delicate. I have kept them for two days and they still taste fine. However, they flatten out if stacked and become stickier with each passing day.
*** The recipe makes 4 dozen cookies if you use the 1 1/2 inch scoop or tablespoon. My scoop is 1 3/4 inch (yes, I measured it) and I was able to get 40 cookies from the recipe.