The juicy, sweet crop is ripening and so is our appetite for all desserts featuring the scrumptious fruit. In our July issue, chef Jeni Britton Bauer, author of Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts ($16; amazon.com), gives a new twist to the classic peaches-and-cream summer standard.
She was inspired by the Melba, a dessert created in the late 19th century by French chef Auguste Escoffier and named in honor of opera singer Nellie Melba.
Britton Bauer dreamed up a modern Melba featuring sugar-dusted croutons, tart raspberry sauce, and a frothy honey whipped cream. The results are a symphony of goodness.
Total time: 3 hours
Prep/cooking time: 1 hour
Inactive time: 2 hours
Makes: 8 servings
Ingredients:1 cup raspberry sauce8 poached peach halves, peeled½ cup sugared croutons or chopped pistachiosHoney whipped cream2 pints vanilla ice cream
For raspberry sauce:2 pints fresh or two 6-oz. packages frozen (thawed) raspberries1 cup sugar
For poached peaches:1 750 ml bottle chardonnay or zinfandel, or 3 cups water2 cups sugar1 cup torn basil leaves4 large peaches, halved and pitted
For sugared croutons:6 croissants or 1 loaf bread (any kind)8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter¾ cup sugar½ tsp ground cardamom
For honey whipped cream:3 tbsp honey1½ cups heavy cream
For raspberry sauce: 1. Push raspberries through a sieve into a medium bowl.2. Stir in sugar and let stand in the refrigerator for 1–2 hours to allow it to dissolve into a sauce.
For poached peaches: 1. Combine wine (or water), sugar, and basil in a 4-quart saucepan and bring to a near boil over low heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.2. Gently place fruit into warm poaching liquid and cook, turning fruit as needed, until tender (about 15 minutes).3. Using a slotted spoon, remove fruit and let it cool. Once cool, refrigerate fruit in its poaching liquid for up to 3 days.
For sugared croutons: 1. Preheat oven to 350°F.2. Tear croissants into 1" chunks. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and cardamom, stirring to dissolve sugar. 3. Toss bread pieces into the mixture to coat. Remove from heat.4. Arrange croutons on a baking sheet, allowing any extra butter to drip back into saucepan.5. Bake until croutons are crispy (about 20 minutes), tossing halfway through. Let cool or serve warm.
For honey whipped cream:1. Combine honey and cream in a large bowl. Using a hand mixer, whisk until soft peaks form.
To assemble: 1. Place 1 scoop ice cream in a dish, and top with 1 peach half.2. Drizzle with raspberry sauce and sprinkle with croutons.3. Top with honey whipped cream. Repeat steps for each of the remaining peach halves.