Robin Anish | The Table is Set: Dessert brings back fond memories of school

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For the better part of the summer, I have been delighted by the enthusiasm my niece, Reese, has had anticipating starting kindergarten this year. From shopping for school clothes, visiting her school and meeting the teacher, looking forward to riding the bus and having breakfast in school, to showing off her backpack that is nearly as big as she is, Reese was feeling the excitement of her very first day of school.

Well, the first day of school has come and gone and, so far, it's a thumbs up for Reese. What did she like best about school? Riding the bus and eating breakfast at school!

Breakfast wasn't offered at school when I was a kid just starting out. In grammar school we could bring our lunch or go home for lunch. The lunch break was an hour, so I could walk home, but I much preferred bringing lunch because I wanted a lunch box ... a Barbie lunch box. We ate at our desks and then went outside to expel the energy that was stifled during the morning spent in the classroom.

Junior high school was the first time I experienced cafeteria lunches. Cafeteria lunches are traditionally the butt of many a joke, but I don't recall the lunches at my school being so bad; as a matter of fact, I remember a dessert called Princess Peach Pudding that was really popular.

So, curious, I did some searching to see if I could find a recipe for or something I could recall as similar to the dessert. With a little tweaking, I came up with this version.

I doubt the cafeteria cooks made Princess Peach Pudding with real whipped cream and cream cheese, but this recipe with a graham cracker crust and a creamy filling and peaches are along the lines of what I remember, only better!

Lunch Ladies Princess Peach Pudding

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

6 tablespoons butter, melted

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

2 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups canned peaches, well drained and coarsely chopped

Combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Reserve 2 tablespoons of crumbs. Press remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9" x 9-inch pan.

With an electric mixer, cream together cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. In a separate bowl, whip the cream, 3 tablespoons sugar, and vanilla extract until stiff peaks form. By hand, fold together whipped cream and cream cheese mixture until just combined. Fold in peaches. Go ahead and substitute fresh, ripe peaches when available.

Spread filling over graham cracker crust. Sprinkle the top with the reserved graham cracker crumbs. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Cut into squares to serve.


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