Alice Waters, the visionary chef-turned-activist, in her book 40 Years of Chez Panisse said, “I spread my philosophy about local, seasonal eating by placing a beautiful peach in Bill Clinton’s hand as he exited a fund-raiser. I was sure if I fed the president a perfect peach,” Waters writes, “it would bring him to a new understanding of the politics of food.”
Baked Amaretto Peaches are prepared in the north of Italy at the height of summer when the trees are heavy with fruit and the prices are practical. They don’t need much work. Halve them and remove the stone. Stuff them with a mixture of crumbled Amaretto cookies or almond macaroons. Add the crushed kernels of the peach stone plus a dusting of cacao. The kernels of most stone fruit contain amygdalin. They add a concentrated bitter, fragrant “almond” supercharged flavor. They also contain a small amount of cyanide, luckily our bodies can detoxify the small amounts. Once baked they are great served room temperature or even better slightly chilled. Enjoy with a glass of Toni Jost Riesling Auslese 2011 375ml for the perfect summertime dessert.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
6 ripe white or yellow peaches
8 Amaretto cookies, crushed by hand
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
4 crushed peach kernels, optional
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon butter
Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Cut peaches in half and remove pits. Carefully remove a spoonful of pulp (just around the area of the pit cavities) from the halves. Transfer extracted pulp to a bowl and crush any large pieces with a fork to a mush. Place peach halves with their cut sides facing upwards in a lined baking dish greased with butter. Put in the hot oven to slightly dry for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
In a bowl, combine crushed Amaretti with sugar and cocoa. If using, remove kernels from peach pits, crush with a mortar and pestle and add, along with the peach pulp and lightly beaten egg yolks, to the Amaretti, sugar and cocoa mixture. Mix until well combined. Distribute the Amaretto filling evenly inside the cavities of the peach halves.
Place a small knob of butter on top of each peach half. Bake for an hour or until the peaches are tender, golden and have shriveled noticeably at their edges. Remove baking dish from oven and leave to cool. Serve room temperature, or chilled, with some roughly crushed Amaretti or a sprinkling of cocoa powder and a glass of Moscato d’Asti or Barolo Chinato.
Silvia Baldini is a former advertising art director and an Italian-born classically trained chef known for her work with popular Italian ingredients. She is a Chopped Champion on Food Network and the founder of The Secret Ingredient Girls and Strawberry & Sage. Following a distinguished and award-winning career as an Art Director on Madison Avenue, Silvia pursued culinary training at ICC in NYC and graduated first in class at Cordon Bleu in London.
Her work and recipes have been published in Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Parents Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Thrillist, Country Magazine, Saveur, The Wall Street Journal and The Independent. Her TV appearances include CNN, ABC, and Dr. Oz. She is a frequent keynote speaker and industry panelist, sharing extensive experience in the food and media industry. Silvia believes that wholesome cooking and traditional wisdom combined with modern technology will be the key to living a happy and healthy life.