We’re just days away from January 13th–which you probably already have circled on your calendar as Peach Melba Day! This fabulous dessert has an interesting history dating back to the late 1800’s, when French chef Auguste Eschoffier created the one-of-a-kind dish for Australian soprano singer Nellie Melba, to commemorate her performance in Wagner’s opera Lohengrin at Covent Garden. Eschoffier topped the peach/vanilla ice cream concoction with spun sugar and presented it in an ice swan – a symbol from the opera. He later adapted the recipe for this sweet treat for the opening of the Carlton Hotel, where he was head chef, and topped the peaches and ice cream with raspberry purée. [pic via flickr]
Today, there are many variations of the Peach Melba recipe. Some use other fruits such as pears, apricots or strawberries in place of the peaches, and sometimes, melted red currant jelly is used instead of raspberry purée. This Peach Melba recipe from FoodNetwork.com gets a five-star rating. It is homemade, right down to the vanilla bean ice cream, using fresh peaches and raspberries for a to-die-for treat you’ll look forward to each and every time.
- 4 fresh peaches
- 2 cups dessert wine or white wine
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split in 1/2 and seeds scraped
- 2 cups fresh raspberries, picked over
- 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, recipe follows, or good quality store bought vanilla, for serving
- Whole fresh raspberries, for garnish
- Mint sprigs, for garnish
Score the bottom of each peach with a paring knife, making an X on the bottom of each. Combine the wine, water, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds and pod in a saucepan. Add the peaches and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the peaches from the syrup and cool slightly.
Return the peach cooking liquid to high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the mixture by half, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Peel the peaches and halve each peach, removing the seed. Pour 1/2 cup of the reserved liquid over the peaches and refrigerate until well chilled.
Combine the raspberries, 1/2 cup of the syrup, confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a food processor and process until well pureed. Strain the raspberry mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
To serve, place 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream in each bowl. Top each serving with 1 peach half and drizzle the raspberry coulis over the peach. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs and serve immediately.
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups milk
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 12 large egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
Combine the cream and 1 cup of the milk in a large heavy saucepan. Scrape the seeds into the cream mixture and add the bean pod. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat.
Whisk the yolks and sugar in a medium bowl. In a slow and steady stream, whisk 1 cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture. Gradually whisk the egg mixture back into the saucepan. Stir constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon and reaches 170 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof medium bowl.
Stir in the remaining 1 cup milk into the ice cream base and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap against the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours.
Pour the chilled custard into an ice cream machine. Churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Pack into an airtight container and freeze until ready to serve.
This recipe makes 8 servings.