Round, flat and juicy; yellow or white, bloody purple, smooth or fuzzy, peaches are my favorite summer stone fruit. They are versatile and useful in countless recipes and not only sweet but also savory. At the peak of the season, I choose to eat them unpeeled. 85% of the vitamins are in the skin, but in truth I’m impatient.
Nothing beats the urgent pleasure of sinking my teeth into a flawless and ripe summer peach. I scrub my peaches with a cloth to remove the fuzz. I devour them stretched over the sink, in the intimacy of my kitchen, sleeves rolled up, feet planted onto the ground for stability. I enjoy them while sticky juices run down my face, neck and elbows.
I enjoy a sticky chin and my peaches straight off the vine, but I’m also a huge glutton for stone fruit desserts: pies, crumbles, tarts and everything in between.
Peaches baked and stuffed with Amaretto cookies is a dish that’s far more than the sum of its parts. It’s a marriage made in Italy, thanks to the alchemy of the slightly bitter almond flavor and the soft creaminess of the peaches. Try it with Kopke Fine Tawny Port on a hot summer night.
Serves: 6 – 8
4/5 ripe peaches, sliced
1½ teaspoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoon Amaretto liquor
2 cups All-Purpose flour or cake flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoon granulated sugar
8 tablespoons European style butter unsalted, chilled and cut in to pieces
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon milk or heavy cream
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon amaretto liquor
2 ½ tablespoons sugar
To Finish: 8 amaretto cookies crumbled and a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
Remove the peaches fuzz gently with a cloth. Slice the peaches, remove the pit, and toss them in a bowl with the sugar, the juice of half a lemon, and the Amaretto liquor. Set-aside to macerate.
If you want to skin peaches, cross the bottom with a sharp paring knife, pour boiling water over them. When ripe they will peel after 15-20 seconds.
To make the biscuits line a cookie sheet with baking paper and preheat the oven at 400°F. Sift the flour, the baking powder, sugar and the salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and with your hands or a pastry cutter or a fork work the mixture into a crumbly dough. Add the cream and stir gently until it forms a rough ball.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape with your hands, not a rolling pin, into a rectangle about 1 inch thick, fold once and gently reshape the rectangle about 6 inches by 10 inches large. Cut the dough into 6 disks with a metal cutter or a small glass. Shape the remaining dough into a disk. Brush the top of the biscuits with cream or milk and sprinkle with sugar.
Place the biscuits gently onto the lined cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let them cool.
Whip the cream in a standing mixer until it begins to get stiff, then add the sugar and the Amaretto liquor. Continue to whip until the cream is firm. Do not overbeat the cream or it will turn in to butter.
To assemble cut the biscuits in half and place the bottom of each plate. You can lightly dunk the cut biscuit halves in some of the maceration juices to mop up the extra flavor. Divide the peaches among the biscuits and spoon more of the macerating liquids over pressing a little so the bottom absorbs more juices. Sprinkle the crumbled Amaretto cookies on the peaches. Add a generous dollop of whipped cream, dust lightly with the cocoa powder.
Top the whipped cream with the biscuit crown and drizzle the remaining juices around the plate.
Note: If your peaches are not perfectly ripe and sweet, you can bake them for 15 to 20 minutes after macerating them. Baking the peaches will develop their sugary flavor and soften them. To bake, place them on a lined cookie sheet and dot them with butter, then place them in the oven at 350°F.
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.