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Heavenly Peach Melba: A Classic Summer Dessert

Classic Peach Melba Dessert Recipe: A Healthy & Easy Summer Treat

Indulge in the perfect summer treat with this elegant Peach Melba recipe. Juicy poached peaches, tangy raspberry sauce, and creamy vanilla ice cream come together in a symphony of flavors that will transport you to dessert paradise.

Peach Melba is the ultimate crowd-pleaser for warm summer evenings. This iconic dessert, with its origins in 19th century London, combines the luscious sweetness of ripe peaches with the bright acidity of raspberries, all balanced by the smooth richness of vanilla ice cream. It’s a refreshing, sophisticated dish that’s surprisingly simple to prepare, making it ideal for both casual family dinners and elegant dinner parties.

Created by the renowned French chef Auguste Escoffier in honor of Australian opera singer Nellie Melba, this dessert has stood the test of time. Our version stays true to the classic while offering practical tips for the modern home cook. With most components preparable in advance, you can easily impress your guests without breaking a sweat in the kitchen.

The secret to an outstanding Peach Melba lies in the quality of its ingredients. Seek out the ripest, most fragrant peaches you can find. For the raspberry sauce, we recommend using frozen berries, which are often picked at peak ripeness and offer consistent flavor. And don’t skimp on the ice cream – a high-quality vanilla will elevate the entire dessert.

Our recipe uses vanilla paste for convenience and flavor, striking a perfect balance between the simplicity of extract and the luxury of whole vanilla beans. However, if you have vanilla beans on hand, they’ll infuse the poaching syrup with an even more intense flavor, especially if you prepare the peaches in advance.

One unique aspect of this recipe is the absence of added salt. The natural flavors of the peaches and raspberries shine so brightly that additional seasoning isn’t necessary. However, if you’re a fan of sweet-and-salty combinations, a light sprinkle of flaky sea salt as a finishing touch can add an interesting dimension to the dessert.

Peach Melba is more than just a dessert – it’s a celebration of summer’s bounty. The light poaching in honey and vanilla transforms already delicious peaches into something truly special. When paired with the vibrant raspberry sauce and creamy ice cream, it becomes a dessert that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Get ready to fall in love with this timeless classic all over again!

Peach Melba: A Symphony of Summer Flavors

Ingredients

  • For the Vibrant Raspberry Sauce:
  • 1 pound frozen raspberries (454g; about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) water
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar (3 1/4 ounces; 90g)
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) fresh lemon juice
  • For the Luscious Poached Peaches:
  • 4 cups (960ml) water
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces; 300g)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) honey
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla paste (see note)
  • 2 pounds ripe peaches (about 6 medium peaches)
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream

Directions

  1. Prepare the Raspberry Sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine raspberries, water, sugar, and lemon juice. Heat over medium, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 12 minutes until the sugar dissolves, raspberries break down, and the sauce thickens slightly. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl, discarding solids. Set aside to cool.
  2. Create the Poaching Syrup: In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine water, sugar, honey, lemon juice, and vanilla paste. Bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl halfway with cold water and ice. Set aside.
  3. Poach the Peaches: Score a small X at the base of each peach. Gently lower peaches into the boiling syrup with a slotted spoon. Reduce heat to a simmer and poach for about 6 minutes, turning halfway through, until the flesh yields easily to a knife. Transfer peaches to the ice bath using a slotted spoon and let cool for about 5 minutes. Reserve the poaching liquid for future use.
  4. Peel and Slice the Peaches: Once cool enough to handle, peel each peach starting from the scored X, using a paring knife to remove the loosened skin. Discard the skins. Halve the peaches through the stem and remove the pits. Slice each half into thirds.
  5. Assemble the Peach Melba: In each serving bowl, place a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream. Arrange the peach slices around the ice cream and drizzle generously with the raspberry sauce. Serve immediately and enjoy the symphony of flavors!

Notes

Vanilla extract or a whole vanilla bean (split lengthwise) can be used in place of vanilla paste. If using a vanilla bean, let it steep in the poaching liquid for enhanced flavor.

For stubborn peach pits, cut the peach cheeks off flush to the pit, then slice the remaining sides as best you can.

Make-Ahead and Storage

Prepare the raspberry sauce up to 3 days in advance and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Poach peaches up to 3 days ahead. Once cooled, refrigerate the peach halves in their poaching liquid in an airtight container. The leftover poaching liquid is versatile – use it to poach more fruit, mix into cocktails, or add to sparkling water for a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage.

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