Pêche Melba was created by famed chef Auguste Escoffier in 1892 for opera singer Nellie Melba after she performed in Wagner’s opera Lohengrin at London’s Covent Garden. The lovely Ms. Melba was staying at the Savoy Hotel in London and sent Escoffier a pair of tickets to come see her sing that night. To celebrate her triumph he prepared the dinner party the following night at the hotel, and for dessert he served poached peaches on ice cream in a dish set on a swan carved out of ice… What a fliiirt!! A few years later, Escoffier opened the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in London where he added a sauce of puréed raspberries and named it Pêche Melba. The rest is history…
I’m sorry to disappoint but i didn’t have a swan carved out of ice handy, so i used crystal dishes. And i used a sour cherry coulis instead of the classic raspberry coulis (because i can!) and i went all fancy with the citrus tuile and basil blossom. I know, i behaved badly. Plus, the night i served this dessert in the Hamptons an incredibly talented violinist with a mohawk played some Wagner before dinner. How times have changed! Or not.
Here you have it, friends. One of my all-time favorite dessert. And a last ode to summer.
- Serves 8
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 8 peaches
Vanilla Ice Cream:
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tahitian vanilla bean
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 pints fresh raspberries
- 1/3 cup sugar, or to taste
- 1/2 lemon juice
Citrus Lace Tuiles (adapted from Claudia Fleming in “The last course”:
- 1 2/3 cups sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 14 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
For the poached peaches:
- Combine the water, sugar and the vanilla bean (split) in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Cut the peaches in half and discard the pits. Place the peach halves in the syrup and poach them for 8 -10 minutes over medium heat. Remove the peaches from the syrup and remove the skin. Let the syrup cool a bit and return the poached peach halves in it. Refrigerate, preferably overnight.
For the vanilla ice cream:
- In a medium saucepan put the vanilla bean pulp and pod, the milk, cream and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and cover to infuse.
- In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and the egg yolks and whisk until the mixture turns pale. Strain the vanilla-infused cream and bring it back to a boil. Gradually pour half of the hot cream over the egg yolks while whisking, pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens just enough to coat the back of a spoon. Don’t boil it of it will break! Cool completely in an ice-bath and refrigerate.
- Freeze the custard in an ice-cream maker and keep in the freezer.
For the citrus lace tuiles:
- In a kitchenaid, whisk together the flour and sugar.
- With the mixer on low speed, drizzle in the orange juice and lemon juice and mix until smooth. Drizzle in the melted (cooled) butter and the zest. Mix until smooth. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350’F. Place a silpat on the baking tray. Drop teaspoons of batter on the silpat and use your finger to spread it around into thin rounds of batter. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Let it cool for 1 minute before removing the tuiles with an offset spatula.
For the raspberry coulis and to assemble:
- For the raspberry coulis, place the raspberries, lemon juice and sugar in the bowl of a blender. Blend you obtain a smooth puree. Strain and discard the seeds.
- Place 2 scoops of vanilla ice-cream in a bowl, top with two poached peach halves, drizzle with raspberry syrup. Serve with a tuile.