This recipe comes to us from Kristen Hartke, beloved friend of the distillery:
Walking through Capitol Hill’s Eastern Market on a Saturday afternoon, I am always overwhelmed by the amazing scent of ripe peaches, tottering in massive piles all along the farmer’s line. For me, the smell is everything that is good about summer, capturing the essence of long lazy days in the warm sunshine. In the dark of winter, when I am dreaming of summer, I sometimes like to recapture those moments with a tot of peach brandy made by Catoctin Creek Distilling Company in nearby Purcellville, Virginia — unlike most peach brandies, their brandy is not too sweet but has an underlying note of fresh peaches that you smell as soon as you bring the glass to your nose. Marrying fresh summer peaches and a smidge of peach brandy together into a glorious pie is a perfect way to celebrate the changing seasons as we get ready to welcome fall.
You’ll need fresh pastry for a two-crust pie; I like to make a vegan pie crust similar to this one by Savvy Vegetarian (http://www.savvyvegetarian.com/vegetarian-recipes/vegan-pie-crust.php), so that none of my friends have to be left out of dessert.
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
3 cups sliced fresh peaches, skins removed (see Cooking Hack for skin removal tips)
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup Catoctin Creek peach brandy
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons basil buds (these are the little buds you’ll find growing on your basil plant and sometimes also for sale at the farmers market; a little goes a long way; you can also use finely chopped basil)
1 tablespoon heavy cream or vegan soy or coconut creamer
1 tablespoon regular or vegan butter, broken into pieces
2 chilled unbaked pie crusts
Put peaches, sugar, and brandy into a bowl and mix together. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, then add the flour and basil buds. Combine well and pour into the pie pan that is lined with one of the chilled unbaked pie crusts. Dot the top of the peach filling with the butter. Roll the other crust over the top, tuck the edges of the top crust under the edges of the bottom crust and crimp together. Brush the top of the crust with the heavy cream (or vegan alternative), then cut a few slits in the top of the crust to let the steam escape as it bakes.
Place the pie in the oven on the middle rack with a baking sheet on the rack below to catch any overflow during baking. Bake for 30 minutes at 400ºF, then cover the edges of the pie with strips of aluminum foil (to prevent burning) and lower the oven temperature to 375ºF. Continue baking for about 40 more minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling. Remove from oven and cool completely.
Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vegan vanilla ice cream.
**Cooking Hack: to remove peach skins, pour boiling water over whole peaches, let sit for a minute or two, then run under cold water. The skins will slip off easily with your fingers!
Recipe and photo courtesy Kristen Hartke and used with permission.