Friday, September 19, 2014

Roasted Peaches with Amaretti Crumble

Okay, this is the last peach post of the year as the fall is quickly descending upon us, one crisp leaf at a time! Is is a farewell kiss to the warmth of summer with its fruity flavors and fun in the sun. A special thanks to August for your beautiful bounty of in-season peaches that my mother picked at Hollin's farm in Delaplane, VA.

Fresh picked peaches are dreamy because they are incredibly juicy and have a very supple texture. They are one of those ingredients that will make or break your recipe. Since these peaches came from the farm, I needed a recipe that would not cover up their naturally awesome flavor. Sit back, relax, and let the fruit do the work!

It brought to mind a dessert from childhood that was simple and elegant: roasted pears. Could the same be done with peaches?

Heck to the yah!

For those who are not familiar with with Amaretti cookies, they are an Italian almond cookie that is crispy and aromatic. Every time I see them, I think of my Italian girlfriend, Michelle P., and her Christmas stash in the office. They can be difficult to find- it's hit or miss. While I have not seen them at a common grocery store, I have found them in baking stores, World Market, and at my favorite coffee shop. If you cannot find them, as I initially feared, you can substitute with crispy almond biscottis.

The only addition that I made to this recipe was a simple glaze on the side to bring out that wonderful almond flavor. It's a basic mixture of confections sugar with water/milk and a splash of amaretto liqueur. Amaretto is an almond-flavored liqueur that tastes amazing in desserts and coffee. It's not strong enough to make an impact on anything but your taste buds. 

If you don't want to use any alcohol, substitute with 1/8 teaspoon almond extract.

The only feedback I received from some picky palettes was that they would have enjoyed it better without the skin on the peach. My defense to this is the skin holds in the moisture while baking in the oven. It did not bother me one bit. If you find that sort of thing bothersome to eat around, you could try scalding the peach and peeling off the skin (see below for directions).

These Roasted Peaches are show stoppers. They take all of five minutes to prepare. Simply slice the peaches in half and place in a pan; create an almond cookie crumble in a blender/food processor; add a spoonful to the center of the peach and bake for a few minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or straight up.

Voila! You have created one classy dessert.

Roasted Peaches with Amaretti Crumble
from Bon Appetite Magazine; glazed added

*Note: If you want to peel the skin from the peach, do not halve the peaches

5 amaretti cookies (about 3/4 ounce total)
3 tablespoons whole natural almonds
2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
*3 firm but ripe large peaches, rinsed, wiped clean of fuzz, halved, pitted
Vanilla ice cream

Glaze (optional)
1/2 cup confections sugar
1/2 teaspoon- 1 teaspoon amaretto or 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1-2 teaspoons milk/water

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish. Combine cookies, almonds, flour, and sugar in processor. Using on/off turns, process until cookies and almonds are coarsely chopped. Add 3 tablespoons chilled butter to processor. Using on/off turns, process topping mixture until moist clumps form.

*Without skin: to remove peel, bring a medium saucepan of water to a rolling boil. Add whole, ripe (but not too ripe) peaches to the boiling water and allow to boil for 30 seconds. Remove from the water after 30 seconds and place in a bowl filled with cold water and iced cubes. Peaches should peel easy once they’re cool. Peel and slice.

Place peach halves, cut side up, in prepared dish. Spread topping over surface of each peach half (about 1 generous tablespoon for each), pressing lightly to adhere and leaving 1/4-inch plain border.

Bake peaches until tender when pierced with knife and topping is golden brown, about 35 minutes. Cool slightly. 

Mix confectioner's sugar, amaretto, and milk adjusting for your preferred consistency.

Serve with scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of the amaretto glaze.