Contented goats frolicking in green meadows, giving fresh, naturally homogenized milk. Local, sustainable, organic ingredients. The leafy Bohdi Tree, symbol of Buddhist enlightenment. Lovely images to associate with . . . dessert.
Yeah, yeah, kumbayah, you may say. Get to the good stuff -- the treats, not the trees. But they go hand in hand at Peace Tree Desserts, according to owner and chef Robyn Eades. The Peace Tree, inspired by her dog Bodhi, is a fitting symbol for Robyn’s approach to sourcing and creating delicious desserts. Even the Peace Tree labels are eco-friendly, made from soy ink and recycled paper.
Robyn, a CIA grad and pastry chef, honed her craft at such celebrated restaurants as The Schoolhouse at Cannondale, Gotham Bar and Grill, Le Bernadin, Daniel and Blackberry Farm in Tennessee. Her interest in organic, seasonal ingredients and sustainable practices (and her love of desserts) led her to create Peace Tree Desserts in 2011.
At present, Peace Tree may be best known for it’s line of small-batch, hand-crafted Cajeta Caramel Sauces, made with goat’s milk sourced from local farms. Cajeta Caramel, an authentic Mexican staple, is similar to dulce de leche but uses goat’s milk rather than cow’s milk. (According to Robyn, goat’s milk is naturally homogenized, lower in lactose than cow’s milk and more easily digested. Who knew?)
With imaginative flavors including curry, rosemary, cinnamon, lemon and Applejack (made with spirits from a small-batch Hudson Valley micro-distillery), the Cajeta Caramel Sauces can be used in a variety of ways to enhance both sweet and savory dishes. As a marinade for salmon, pork or chicken, a dessert filling, a dip for fresh fruit, a sweetener for coffee or tea, or topping for ice cream or pancakes, there are endless possibilities. Smooth and sweet (but not cloying), the sauces are warming and comforting with deep, rich caramel flavor. The flavors (rosemary, etc.) add depth without overpowering.
Other products include seasonal sustainable s’mores kits, including handcrafted graham crackers made with Wild Hive Farm’s whole wheat flower and Red Bee honey, strawberry marshmallows made with local strawberries and Taza’s organic stone-ground chocolate. My family – true s’mores connoisseurs – declared them fabulous and quickly devoured them. (Naturally my three daughters were charmed by the fluffy pink marshmallows.)
Luckily, Peace Tree will be offering even more treats weekly at the Westport Farmer’s Market. With a menu that varies week-to-week (depending on the availability of fresh, local ingredients), market-goers can look forward to fresh-baked fruit tarts, cupcakes, strawberry lemonade, goat’s milk ice cream parfaits and even savory quiches.
Having sampled this week’s tart, I will definitely be back at the market next week. It had a flaky vanilla bean bottom crust covered with strawberry/rose geranium jam, topped with baked almond frangipane, adorned with local red currants. Alone, the tart was a stunning summer dessert. Drizzled with Peace Tree Desserts’ Lemon Cajeta Caramel Sauce, it was a tarty, saucy celebration of flavors and textures.
So it is possible to eat devine desserts without feeling guilty about pesticides, additives or your carbon footprint. Now, if we could only do something about those pesky calories . . . .
Peace Tree Desserts products are available online, weekly at the Westport Farmer’s Market, and at local retail locations including Collyer Catering Market and Double L Market in Westport, the Village Market and Babycat Milkbar in Wilton, Fairfield Cheese Company and The Pantry in Fairfield, Sport Hill Farm in Easton and Tarry Market in Port Chester.