Peaches are the Lolitas of the fruit world.

They look ripe-and-ready long before they actually are.

You can check an apple for bruises, tap a watermelon or pinch a grape to make sure it’s firm, but when it comes to peaches, it pays to ignore everything but the smell. I don’t mean the smell it has when you hold it to your nose and take a deep breath. I mean, keep walking until the air around them intoxicates you with the smell of sweet, summery peaches and thoughts of cobbler, pies and crips.

Saucers of peaches and cream.

Sticky grilled peaches topped with mascarpone and drizzles of orange blossom honey.

The scent of a truly ripe peach is so full of possibilities.

Possibilities like a heaping platter of Sweet Peach Muffins with Brown Sugar-Walnut Streusel Topping. Bright, juicy peach bits surrounded by a cake dark with cinnamon, allspice and rum. The streusel on top adds just the right amount of crunch, with the earthiness of the walnuts balancing the sweetness of the brown sugar. This is not some heavy, gummy, cloying, drive-thru muffin. It’s light and cakey, full of peaches at their peak.

If it turns out we really are what we eat, I want to be a peak peach.

Sweet Peach Muffins with Brown Sugar-Walnut Streusel Topping

Adapted from Sara Foster’s “The Foster’s Market Cookbook”

Almost any fresh or frozen fruit (except for very soft fruits like bananas or mango) can be substituted for the peaches. Go crazy!

Makes large 12 muffins

    Brown Sugar-Walnut Streusel Topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
    Muffin Batter:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum or pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, pitted, chopped peaches
  1. For the Topping: In a small bowl, combine the walnuts, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir in the butter, and mix until well blended.
  2. For the Muffins: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 12 large muffin cups with paper liners, and spray the top of the pan lightly with nonstick spray.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients, from flour to salt, and set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, butter, sour cream and rum or vanilla.
  5. Add the egg mixture to the dry mixture. Stir until just moist and blended. Do not overmix.
  6. Fold in the peaches.
  7. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan with a large ice cream scoop (1/3-cup scoop). The batter should come to the top of the paper liner or pan. Sprinkle with the Brown Sugar-Walnut Streusel Topping, and lightly press the topping into the muffin batter.
  8. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes clean. Remove from the oven, and cool for 5 minutes. Turn the muffins out of the pan, and serve immediately.