There is nothing more satisfying than a perfectly ripe peach. When that happens, it is my job, as a pastry chef, not to screw it up. Nature is perfect, and often deserves to be left in its most pure form. Having said that, I am a pastry chef and what fun would it be to serve a peach, unadorned, on a plate? So, I peeled the peach (which may be the sexiest dessert of all), removed the pit, stuffed it full of perfectly whipped cream with croquant (caramelized almonds) and set it on a bed of peach ice cream, to create my version of Peach Melba (Fresh Peaches with Ice Cream and Croquant). Traditionally a Peach Melba is nothing more than peach, vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce. I stuck to peaches throughout, so the ice cream and whipped cream have peach puree added to them. The original dessert was created in honor of an Australian opera singer by the first celebrity chef, Escoffier, back in the 1890s. Nellie Melba was performing in London and the chef created a dessert to celebrate her triumphant voice. This is very reminiscent of the story about the famous Pavlova, created for a ballerina. I am all in favor of worshiping creative genius with sweets.
Despite the elegance of the this Peach Melba, it is really quite easy to make. You can watch me make this Peach Melba in my instagram video and the recipe is below.
Peach Melba (Fresh Peaches with Ice Cream and Croquant)
6 perfectly ripe peaches
Peach swirl ice cream:
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream (make your own)
1/2 cup peach puree (recipe below)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon corn syrup
1 cup macrona almonds
2 ripe peaches chopped into small pieces
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks
3 tablespoons peach puree (recipe below)
1/4 cup crushed croquant
To make the ice cream disks:
Soften the ice cream (if not making your own) and press it into a Cake Pan 9 x 13 Inch, lined with parchment (see video on instagram) then swirl the peach puree into the ice cream. Allow to freeze for several hours. It can be done a day or two ahead. Use a round cookie cutter to stamp out circles of ice cream that match the dimension of the peaches. Keep frozen until ready to serve.
To prepare the peaches:
Peel the peaches by cutting a cross in the bottom, poaching them in boiling water for 1 minute, then putting them in ice water. The skins will peel away with ease. Pit the peaches as instructed in my instagram video with a paring knife. They can be peeled and pitted a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
To make the peach puree:
Cut up two peaches, cook them with half the sugar, over medium heat until they release their juices. Puree the peaches with an immersion blender. Mix the remaining sugar and corn starch together. Add it to the pureed peaches and cook until bubbling for 3 minutes. Pour into a bowl, cover and refrigerate.
To make the croquant:
Place the sugar in the center of a small pot. add the corn syrup and 1/4 cup of water. Heat on high until the mixture starts to turn amber on the sides of the pan. Stir the caramel and allow to smoke slightly, remove from heat and add the nuts and salt. Pour the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with a silat of buttered parchment paper. Allow to cool completely, then break up the croquant and pulse in a food processor until small pieces.
To make the filling:
Fold the whipped cream, peach puree and croquet together. Place the mixture in a large piping Decorating Bag, fitted with a large round Pastry Tube and use it to fill the prepared peaches. This can be done hours or a day ahead.
To assemble the dessert:
Freeze the dishes they will be served on, this will prevent the ice cream from sliding all over the plate. Set down the ice cream circle, then the filled peach and sprinkle with crushed croquant. You can serve them with more of the peach puree.
Depending on the size of the peaches or the appetite of your guests, you can serve them whole.
Or you can cut them in half and serve them.
Be sure to play some opera as you eat!