Besides being a wonderful place to work (and *ahem* having a pretty darn beautiful pastry case if I do say so myself!), one of my absolute favorite things about the gourmet grocery store Central Market, is the produce department.  While you may have to pay a pretty penny, you will come home with (hopefully) multiple bags of high quality, high flavor, fruits and vegetables.

Central Market also offers an astounding variety of different produce and does a nice job of highlighting what is in season.  Come citrus or tomato season, you are bound to be blown away by the abundant and beautiful shrine honoring the prized produce and will likely learn a thing or two about varieties you never knew existed.

Being in Texas, we are fortunate enough to be knee deep in stone fruit season right now and once again the miraculous display stopped me in my tracks one morning while perusing the produce department for berries to top my fruit tarts (can you tell I am like a kid in a candy store every time I go to work?).

In my opinion, nothing is worse than a flavorless, mealy, out-of-season peach.  It’s just one of those things that should never be consumed anytime other than the short, summertime, window, when they are at their peak.   I always know it’s safe to dive in when you walk by a pile of peaches and their sweet smell overcomes you.

In addition to some amazing Texas peaches that I poached and paired with a wonderful tres leches cake, I wanted to share a few of the more unique and eye-catching varieties of stone fruit that we are carrying right now.  Hopefully you learn a little something and are lucky enough to try some yourself.

Texas Peaches. Smaller than the Georgia Peach, but still wonderfully plump and sweet.

Sugar Plums are not just for Christmas stories, these oval stone fruit have a nice bite and a subtle sweetness.

Petite Black Apricots, while dark and brooding on the outside, boast a bright, honeyed flesh.

Like their namesake, Mango Nectarines have a striking green skin and warm yellow meat, but the taste is all nectarine.

Saturn Peaches may look far out, but with their intense floral aroma and flavor each bite brings you back to their familiar cousin.  Interesting note: the skin of these peaches never blushes like a typical peach.

Tropical Plumana Plumcots with exotic leopard skin and sensual tropical taste make you wish you were relaxing on an equally exotic beach.

Black Plums.  Their vibrant red interior, flavor, and firm texture are reminiscent of bing cherries.

Tres Leches with Poached Peaches

Serves 8-10

Cake recipe adapted from May 2011 Saveur magazine.  Poached peaches adapted from September 2005 Gourmet magazine.

For poached peaches:

4 medium ripe peaches

1 1/4 cup sugar

2 cups water

1 (1-inch piece) vanilla

For tres leches:

Unsalted butter, for greasing pan

1 cup flour, plus more for pan

1 cup sugar

6 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons rum

1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 13.5-oz can coconut milk

1 12-oz can evaporated milk

Poach peaches: Cut a shallow X in bottom of each peach with a sharp paring knife and immerse fruit in a 4-quart heavy pot of boiling water 30 seconds, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking. Transfer peaches to a cutting board and peel, starting with cut end, then cut in half, discarding pits.

Combine sugar and water in cleaned pot. Halve vanilla bean lengthwise with a paring knife and scrape seeds into pot, then add pod and bring mixture to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add peaches, pitted sides down, to sugar syrup, then reduce heat and poach, covered, at a bare simmer 6 minutes. Turn peaches over and continue to poach, covered, until tender, 5 to 6 minutes more.  Cool peaches in poaching liquid in pot, uncovered, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Make cake: Heat oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour a 9″ springform pan; set aside.  In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugar and eggs on high speed until tripled in volume, pale, and thick, about 12 minutes.  Add vanilla extract until combined. Add flour and gently fold with a rubber spatula until just combined; pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top.  Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes.  Let cool.

In a large pitcher, whisk together rum and condensed, coconut, and evaporated milks.  Pierce cake all over wit a toothpick and slowly drizzle milk mixture over top.  Chill until milks are completely absorbed, about 4 hours.  Slice into wedges and top with sliced poached peaches.

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