Happy Australia Day to all my fellow Aussies! In honour of our National Holiday, I thought I’d share with you a special dessert: Peach Melba. This delicious and very easy to make dessert of peaches and raspberry sauce with vanilla ice cream was invented in the 1890’s by the French chef Auguste Escoffier at the Savoy Hotel in London, in honour of the Australian soprano Nellie Melba (thus the name Peach Melba). It’s the end of summer down here and school is about to start again… so what better way to say bye to summer than with an ice cream treat? This dessert is very refreshing and a family favourite. It is perfect for a barbecue or pool party, but also for a more sophisticated dinner. You can serve it in a big bowl or in individual cups. Also, this recipe will show you how to poach peaches… you won’t believe how easy it is and they taste much better than store bought ones (which can be used too, if you are in a pinch or it’s not peach season). If you are curious to learn more about Australian food, listen to the podcast I taped with Paolo from Quatro Fromaggio and Other Disgraces on the Menu a few days ago! Enjoy!
- 1 ½ lt – 6 cups cold water
- 450 gms – 2 cups caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- ½ vanilla pod, split open lengthwise
- Thinly peeled rind of ⅔ of a lemon
- 6 just ripe peaches
- 250 gms – 9 oz. raspberries, fresh or frozen
- juice of 1 orange
- juice of ½ lemon
- 2 tbsp caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- Pour the cold water into a saucepan. Add the caster sugar, vanilla pod and lemon rind. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
- Carefully put the washed peaches into the syrup. Bring to a slow simmer and poach the peaches for 10 minutes.
- Remove the peaches from the heat and transfer them with the syrup into a bowl. Let them cool down, then refrigerate them until 10 minutes before serving.
- Blend the orange juice, lemon juice, caster sugar and the raspberries to a purée.
- Strain this raspberry coulis into a bowl and keep aside.
- Just before serving, lift the peaches from the syrup and peel them carefully. You can either keep them whole or halve them to remove the pit like I did.
- Put several scoops of vanilla ice-cream in a deep serving dish. Gently place the peeled peaches on top and spoon the raspberry coulis over the top.
- Sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds and dust with icing sugar.
- You can also serve the Peach Melba in individual bowls, like I did.
- Serve immediately.
After poaching the peaches, don’t discard the syrup in which you poached them. After finishing the peaches, put the syrup back on the fire and simmer until it reduces by half. Use this syrup to top ice cream, pancakes and cakes.