I’m in love with French peaches. Normally, I keep a safe distance from peaches because they are furry on the outside (yep, I have texture issues) and I always found nectarines to be sweeter. Until I came to France of course. The peaches here are amazing – juicy, sweet and slightly tart at the same time and so full of flavour. The nectarines on the other hand are juicy but not so sweet and taste rather watery. Between us we have gone through well over a dozen peaches in about 3 days.
Continuing on with the summer holiday series, this was the dessert course for our fancy dinner on one of the holiday evenings. I found the recipe in a Donna Hay book but I couldn’t find it again. So this recipe is a recollection of the steps I followed in making the dish.
The hardest part of this recipe was to beat egg whites to a soft peak by hand as our house didn’t come with an electric blender. It was a good upper arm work out for sure. The recipe called for some Cointreau but we didn’t have any so I used something called “Appertif de Noix” which I read is a walnut wine (http://frenchholiday.wordpress.com/2010/05/05/walnut-aperitif-aperitif-de-noix/). I thought it worked well while being subtle and allowing the flavour of the fruit their full right to shine.
Try this simple yet elegant recipe and enjoy!
2 ripe peaches, halved and stones removed
2 ripe nectarines, halved and stones removed
2 tablespoons of Appertif de Noix (Cointreau, Port would work)
2 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons of dessicated coconut
2 tablespoons of ground almond
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
2 tablespoons of sugar
1. Heat the oven to 180C.
2. Place the halved peaches and nectarines on baking paper/silver foil on a baking tray, pour over the liquer and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the skins start to shrivel.
3. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks are formed.
4. To the whisked egg whites, add the sugar, coconut, ground almond and mix well.
5. Spoon a tablespoon of the egg mixture onto each baked peach/nectarine, lower the temperature to 160C and bake for a further 15-20 minutes or until the macaroon topping has gone brown.
6. If you don’t want to waste the egg yolks, beat them in a small pot with half a cup of sugar. Add 1 and 1/2 cups of milk and the vanilla essence to the yolks and mix well. Place this “pre-custard” on a very low heat and stir continuously for 12-15 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken. Turn off the heat source and serve the custard along with the peaches/nectarines.
7. I served one peach half and one nectarine half to each person on a bed of melon which is another sweet and juicy fruit that I’ve discovered on this trip.
1. After all the custard enthusiasm, my custard curdled – don’t lose hope as apparently it happens to every cook – be they great or small. At least you tried not to waste the yolks. My advise woudl be to take it off the heat as soon as it thickens and don’t let yoruself be distracted while you are making custard.
2. The melon that I served with the peaches/nectarines was pretty but not complementary in taste. In addition, the peaches and their full flavour completely clobbered the melons which are quite taste on their own.