The days are warmer and brighter and summer is just around the corner. Celebrate the color and flavor of the season with the fresh, bright, and sweet burst of Classic Peach Melba.
The sweet and juicy bite of peaches pair perfectly with both savory and sweet dishes. From Grilled Flank Steak with Peach Salsa to this French favorite, it doesn’t take much to allow them to shine when they’re at season’s peak. With just a handful of easily accessible ingredients, this is sure to become a new tradition during peach season.
What is Peach Melba?
This classic dessert highlighting ripe peaches was created by French chef Escoffier, often considered the godfather of haute cuisine. Combining poached peaches with a bright raspberry sauce, it was named after the famed soprano Dame Nellie Melba in the late 1890s.
The original version, called Pêche au cygne combined a fresh peach with vanilla ice cream, served in a silver cup with an ice swan. The swan, or cynge, was to honor the opera Nellie was performing in. Later when Chef Escoffier opened his restaurant at the Ritz Carlton in London, he changed the dessert by including a sweetened raspberry puree and renamed the dessert Pêche Melba.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Easy Process – You are just quickly and gently poaching the peaches in this recipe. No other cooking required. This is a dessert that you can pull together last minute while still making it feel like a special occasion.
- Minimal Ingredients – Aside from the fresh peaches and raspberries everything else are things you probably already have like sugar and water. You don’t need a lot to make this show stopping dessert.
- Fresh Flavors – The simple poaching liquid enhances the natural sweetness of the peaches without overpowering them. The fresh flavors of the fruit is center stage, just like Nellie Melba.
If you are looking for an easy but elegant dessert, this is it. Not only does it require very little cooking but you only need a handful of basic ingredients.
- Peaches – You want to pick peaches that are firm but ripe.
- Water – The base for the poaching liquid.
- Sugar – Adds just enough sweetness to accent the natural sweetness of the peaches. You can also add a little sugar to the raspberries when pureeing if desired.
- Rosemary – Adds a woodsy, herbaceous note to the peaches.
- Raspberries – The bright and tart flavor of fresh raspberries accents the sweetness of the peaches.
- Sliced Almonds – Gives buttery crunch to every bite.
- Black Pepper – This is optional, but adds an earthy hint of savory heat.
- Ice Cream – Cool, creamy, and perfectly sweet, this is the classic pairing with peach melba.
How to Make Classic Peach Melba
It doesn’t have to be complex to create beautiful and memorable dishes. Combining simple ingredients with an easy technique, this traditional dessert with an Uncomplicated twist is sure to become a new favorite.
Time needed: 30 minutes
Gently poached peaches are combined with fresh pureed raspberries and cool vanilla ice cream for an elegant and easy treat.
Add your water, sugar, and rosemary to a stockpot over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Cut an X into the bottom of the peaches and carefully lower them into the boiling water. Allow them to boil for five minutes, or until they begin to soften, but not become mushy. Check them with a fork. Remove them from the water.
Allow the peaches to cool enough to handle. Peel them once cooled, starting where you made the X shape. They should easily peel. Cut the peaches in half and twist. Remove the pit.
Add the raspberries to a food processor along with a tablespoon of sugar if desired. Blend until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a fine mesh sieve and use a spatula to work the puree through, leaving the seeds behind.
Spread some of the sauce on to a plate. Top with the poached peaches. Add a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream. Garnish with almond slivers and a pinch of black pepper.
No raspberries? No problem! For a slight twist on the classic, you can replace the fresh raspberries in this recipe for strawberries. The process will be the same. Puree them in the food processor and then use a spatula to force them through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds.
The raspberry sauce portion of this recipe can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. It will last for up to four days. The peaches however shouldn’t be prepared until the day of or just before you plan on serving these. You want to maintain that fresh flavor and juicy texture of a ripe peach. Because they’re only being poached for a brief amount of time, they will continue to soften.
Top Tip for Classic Peach Melba
This recipe is easy to double and triple if you plan on serving it for a party. You can scoop your ice cream in advance and allow it to chill in individual serving glasses or allow them to freeze on a baking sheet. This way when it comes time to plate your ice cream is all ready to go.
Classic Peach Melba
- 1 stockpot
- 1 food processor
- 1 fine mesh sieve
- 2 ripe peaches
- 1 liter water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1-2 rosemary sprigs
- sliced almonds for serving
- pinch of black pepper, optional
- vanilla ice cream for serving
- 1 cup fresh raspberries
- 1 tbsp sugar, optional
- Add the water, rosemary, and sugar to a pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
- Cut an X into the bottom of each peach, just cutting through the skin. Add the peaches into the boiling water.
- Let the peaches boil for 5 minutes, or until they are fork tender. Test with a fork making sure they don't become too mushy.
- Remove the peaches from the water and allow them to cool.
- Use a knife to peel the skin from the peaches. They should peel easily.
- Cut the peaches in half, twisting to separate them. Remove the pits.
- Add the raspberries to a food processor along with the sugar if using and blend until they are a pureed.
- Pour the puree into a fine mesh sieve. Use a spatula to force the puree through and remove the seeds.
- To plate, drizzle some of the raspberry puree onto a plate or serving glass. Top with the peaches. Add a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream. Sprinkle sliced almonds over the top and a pinch of black pepper if desired.