The change of seasons continually amazes me. Summer brings periods of heat so intense, I cannot recall from a few short months before what it felt like to be cold. The joy of spying the newest of seasonal produce hitting the markets just as the weather changes can sometimes overshadow the continued enjoyment of what remains from the previous season. Knowing how grim and long winter can seem, I feel a little embarassed to be so euphoric over the appearance of a bounty of mushrooms. The fleeting peach season in particular seems a shame to overlook.
When the first sun-kissed, fuzzy peaches arrive, often it is too hot to eat them except ice box-cold in sharp contrast to the glaring heat of the sun. Yet this time of year we still hold onto the peaches, nectarines and strawberries for a few short weeks even while the mushrooms, chestnuts, apples and pears are arriving. The difference now however is that now the concept of turning on the oven sounds inviting rather than torturous. Autumn always makes me think of Piemonte with its exceptional wines and sought-after truffles and so this week I present a Piemontese dish of baked peaches stuffed with chocolate and amaretti. I rather untraditionally paired the still-warm peaches with honey ice cream at a lunch party I held, which went down a storm. They are simple to make and a reminder that these few precious weeks are when the abundance of summer and autumn intermingle.
Pesche ripiene (baked peaches stuffed with chocolate and amaretti) – Piemonte
Choose ripe peaches so that their flesh will melt away with the touch of a spoon. The chocolatey amaretti filling pairs perfectly with both peaches and pears. You can play with the ratio of amaretti to biscuits depending on how strong you want the amaretti flavour. You can use all amaretti (195 grams) if you are gluten-free. If you prefer a more muted amaretti flavour then you can go with half half.
6 peaches, cut in half and the pit removed (can peel if you like)
30 grams butter
30 grams dark chocolate, grated
150 grams amaretti
45 grams digestive biscuits (can use another neutral biscuit/cookie you like such as shortbread)
1 egg, room temperature
40 grams sugar
20 grams cocoa powder
50 grams flaked/slivered almonds
Preheat the oven to 200C. Use a melon baller or a spoon to cut out a larger hole in the middle of each peach. Reserve the peach flesh which has been removed and place in a small frying pan with 10 grams of the butter. Heat over medium heat and cook until the peach becomes soft, about 5 minutes. Leave it to cool.
Grind together the amaretti and the biscuits to a fine crumb. Mix the grated chocolate, biscuits and the cocoa powder.
Whisk together the egg with the sugar until it turns white and foamy, about 10 minutes. If your mixer has a heating function, this could be done at 37C.
Add the egg and cooked peach to the chocolate mixture and mix well. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place the peaches onto the paper, cut side up. Spoon the filling into the hole in the peaches. Top with the flaked almonds and dot with the remaining butter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden.