Piedmontese Stuffed Peaches

Dolce
Fri, 08/12/2016 - 16:52
Difficult Level
Low
Cooking Time
1 hour
Cost
Medium

If you’re eating in a trattoria in Piedmont at this time of year, there’s a good chance that you’ll find this dolce on the menu. Made with peach halves that have been stuffed with crushed amaretti biscuits, cocoa powder, peach pulp and egg yolk, this oven-baked dish from Italy’s northwest corner is one of those rare desserts with just the right note of sweetness.  And, after savouring that contrast between the peach’s soft, juicy pulp and the crushed amaretti for the first time, there’s a good chance you’ll want to make it yourself at home, which, as it happens, is a simple matter, provided you source the best peaches you can. 

These should be of the yellow variety and as sweet and ripe as possible. Not only will you obtain a better overall result, you’ll also have an easier time removing their pits, hollowing the halves and a greater amount of fleshy pulp to add to your amaretti-based filling. Just to clarify, the variety of amaretti you’ll need to make this dessert are the crisp macaroon-like type (Amaretti di Saronno), not the soft, marzipan-like ones (Amaretti di Sassello). To accentuate the fragrance of the apricot kernels that are in the amaretti, you may also want to upcycle the kernels inside the peach pits and add them to the filling, like many Piedmontese home cooks are known to do. 

The amount of sugar indicated below can be replaced with additional crushed amaretti too. As for the peaches’ serving temperature, the jury’s out on this one. Beppe Lodi and Giovanni Goria, authors of two classic Piedmontese cookbooks (Nonna Genia and La cucina del Piemonte collinare e vignaiolo, respectively), insist on serving them piping hot. Ada Boni, writer of several  classic Italian regional cookbooks such as The Talisman, preferred them cold.  My preference, which has been indicated in the directions below, is a compromise between these two positions: still warm after 40 minutes’ rest. 

At any rate, do make this succulent dessert and decide for yourself!If you’re eating in a trattoria in Piedmont at this time of year, there’s a good chance that you’ll find this dolce on the menu. Made with peach halves that have been stuffed with crushed amaretti biscuits, cocoa powder, peach pulp and egg yolk, this oven-baked dish from Italy’s northwest corner is one of those rare desserts with just the right note of sweetness.  And, after savouring that contrast between the peach’s soft, juicy pulp and the crushed amaretti for the first time, there’s a good chance you’ll want to make it yourself at home, which, as it happens, is a simple matter, provided you source the best peaches you can. 

These should be of the yellow variety and as sweet and ripe as possible. Not only will you obtain a better overall result, you’ll also have an easier time removing their pits, hollowing the halves and a greater amount of fleshy pulp to add to your amaretti-based filling. Just to clarify, the variety of amaretti you’ll need to make this dessert are the crisp macaroon-like type (Amaretti di Saronno), not the soft, marzipan-like ones (Amaretti di Sassello). To accentuate the fragrance of the apricot kernels that are in the amaretti, you may also want to upcycle the kernels inside the peach pits and add them to the filling, like many Piedmontese home cooks are known to do.

The amount of sugar indicated below can be replaced with additional crushed amaretti too. As for the peaches’ serving temperature, the jury’s out on this one. Beppe Lodi and Giovanni Goria, authors of two classic Piedmontese cookbooks (Nonna Genia and La cucina del Piemonte collinare e vignaiolo, respectively), insist on serving them piping hot. Ada Boni, writer of several  classic Italian regional cookbooks such as The Talisman, preferred them cold.  My preference, which has been indicated in the directions below, is a compromise between these two positions: still warm after 40 minutes’ rest. At any rate, do make this succulent dessert and decide for yourself!

Serves 6

Ingredients

yellow peaches
6 ripe ones
amaretti
40 g, finely crushed, plus extra for garnish
caster sugar
20g
unsweetened cocoa
10g (powder)
peach kernels
4 (optional)
egg yolks
1, lightly beaten
butter
to grease baking dish

Preparation

Pre-heat oven to 180°C. 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 baking dish greased with a very generous layer of butter. In a bowl, combine crushed amaretti with sugar and cocoa. 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 amaretti-based 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 shrivelled noticeably at their edges. Remove baking dish from oven and leave to cool. Best served warm, after 40 minutes’ rest, with some roughly crushed amaretti or a sprinkling of cocoa powder on top and a glass of Moscato d’Asti.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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