Summer Desserts: The Peach Melba

 

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Have you noticed how fabulous the peaches are this year? If you haven’t tried a Niagara peach yet this summer, stop what you are doing right now and get ahold of some this instant. They are incredible. And short of just taking a big bite out of one of them, one of the best ways to enjoy this summer’s peach crop is by making Peach Melba.

 

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see the peaches

 

This famous dessert was created by none other than Auguste Escoffier and named after the nineteenth century Australian soprano Nellie Melba who, in between soirées at Downton Abbey  was staying at the Savoy Hotel where Escoffier was the chef. Melba gave Escoffier a ticket to a production of Lohengrin, and in return he created this simple dessert for her, peaches and vanilla ice cream, later adding a little raspberry purée. This is a fabulous addition to the dessert, especially as Ontario raspberries are out in full force right now, and making a pureé out of them is super easy.

 

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boil the peaches for two minutes

 

Over the years people have tinkered with the recipe even more; poaching the peaches in sugar syrup, adding whipped cream and almonds. But sometimes less is more. True, Escoffier did sprinkle his peaches with a little sugar and set them aside for a little while before putting the dessert together, so that is an option. But this summer’s peaches are so beautiful that sugaring them is truly gilding the lily.

 

chillin' like a villain

chillin’ like a villain

 

“Pêche Melba is a simple dish made up of tender and very ripe peaches, vanilla ice cream, and a purée of sugared raspberry. Any variation on this recipe ruins the delicate balance of its taste.”- Auguste Escoffier

 

Peeled and ready to go!

Peeled and ready to go!

 

Peach Melba

serves 3

3 peaches

1 cup fresh raspberries

1 cup icing sugar

1 pint vanilla ice cream

To get this recipe right you must first peel the peaches. Allow for 1 peach per serving. The best way to peel peaches is to score the bottom of each peach with an X and submerge them in a pot of boiling water for about two minutes. The peach skin will begin to peel back from the X just a bit. Remove the peaches from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and immerse immediately in ice water. This will stop any cooking and make them easier to peel. After a chilly bath of about two minutes, remove the peaches and peel back the skin from the X, it will slip right off. Cut the peaches in half from pole to pole or across the equator and gently twist while pulling the peach halves apart. Place the haves on a plate and put them in the fridge. If you like you can sprinkle them with a little icing sugar.

While the peaches rest, make a quick, fresh raspberry pureé. Pulse one cup of raspberries in a blender for a few seconds and remove. Pour the raspberry into a large strainer placed over a bowl and mash the berries through the strainer with a spoon. Discard the seeds and keep the raspberry mash. Whisk in about 2 tablespoons of the icing sugar, then another two tablespoons, and repeat until you have used up all the sugar and the purée is creamy and glossy. This can be placed in a jar and kept in the fridge.

To assemble, scoop two or three scoops of ice cream into each bowl. Drizzle with the raspberry pureée, add the peaches, cut in halves or thirds, and maybe another hit of pureé. Why not?

This extraordinarily classy dessert is one that you can prepare in advance and keep in separate containers in the fridge (and freezer), and when it comes time for dessert, i.e., any time, it can be assembled in a minute. No baking, no oven, no rolling of pastry, just pure, delicious summer pleasure. You can thank Escoffier and Nellie Melba!

 

Dame Nellie Melba

Dame Nellie Melba

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