This juicy fruit, which has been around since prehistoric times, is considered a symbol of longevity in China, where it was first cultivated. Spaniards eventually brought it to this continent. Today the peach is the third most popular fruit in America, with the orange and apple claiming first and second place, respectively.
A member of the rose family, just like the raspberry, the peach can do something that berries cannot: it continues to ripen after it's picked. If you end up with a few that aren't quite ready, just place them in a brown bag and wait two to three days.
Thin layers of flaky pastry and sweetened cream cheese filling make these fruit flowers a real peach of a treat to serve at summer dinner parties, birthdays or a Sunday brunch. Cutting out the puffy pastry leaves used to garnish them makes a great task for young helpers, as does topping the peach-slice petals with a bright-red raspberry center.
Thaw one puff pastry sheet at room temperature. Then heat the oven to 400 degrees. With a cookie cutter or a butter knife, cut the pastry into four circles that measure about 4 inches in diameter. Use a butter knife to cut leaf shapes (about 1-1/2 inches long) from the puff pastry scraps. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack (a parent's job) and let cool completely.
Wash the peaches well, then cut them into halves and remove the pits. Thinly slice the halves into a mixing bowl. Dust the peaches with confectioners' sugar, and let them set while you prepare the cream cheese filling.
In a separate mixing bowl, blend the cream cheese and apricot or strawberry jam with a wooden spoon until smooth (another good job for kids). Gently split open each puff pastry circle and spread a thin layer of the cream cheese mixture on the bottom halves. Replace the tops and gently spread on more of the cream cheese mixture.
Layer the peach slices in a circular pattern on top of the cream cheese. Start at the outer edge and work toward the center. Finally, place a fresh raspberry in the center of each blossom and garnish with the pastry leaves. Serves 4.