Okay, this really isn't about baking, but it is about dessert, so I hope you'll cut me some slack. I'm also hoping that once you get a taste of this sundae, you won't care that you didn't turn your oven on this week.
The sundae is a gently tweaked peach Melba, a dessert of peaches, raspberry sauce, and vanilla ice cream, created by world famous chef Auguste d'Escoffier, in honor of the opera singer Nellie Melba. I hadn't made one in years—make that many, many years—but we'd been getting such great peaches this summer that I found myself reprising lots of tucked-away favorite recipes. Of course, once I made this, I made it again and again, reminded of why some dishes become classics: they're just so good.
The last time I made the sundae, which was this week, I made it a true end-of-summer dessert—I kept the poached peaches and raspberry sauce, but I swapped the vanilla ice cream for sweet-corn ice cream. I'd never made corn ice cream before—had never really thought about it—but there were the peaches and right near them at the farm stand was the corn, so bingo!
I don't have a clue whether Escoffier would approve. In fact, I'm not even sure you're going to approve, so here's what I've done: I've given you the recipe for a sundae with really good vanilla ice cream, then, in "Playing Around," you'll find the instructions for the sweet-corn ice cream.
If you have a second, let me know what you think. In the meantime, I hope those of you in the States enjoy the long weekend.
Playing Around: For Sweet-Corn Ice Cream, you'll find the ingredients are the same as those for the vanilla ice cream below, but in addition you'll need 3 ears of fresh sweet corn and some sea salt. (I used a pinch of fleur de sel.) Cut the kernels off the cobs, and set them aside. Cut each cob into 3 pieces and toss them into a large pot. Add the milk and cream, bring to the boil, turn off the heat, cover and let the mixture steep for at least 30 minutes. Pull out the cobs and discard them. Add the kernels to the pot, bring to the boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 3 minutes. If you've got an immersion blender, whir the kernels just a few times to break them up—you don't want to purée them (it's more like chopping them)—or do this in a regular blender or food processor. Strain the liquid into a large measuring cup; discard the corn kernels (or use them for fritters). If necessary, add milk to bring the liquid make to the 3-cup mark. Proceed as for vanilla ice cream, but add only 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and, if you'd like, a pinch of salt.
- For the peaches:
- 4 ripe but firm peaches
- 2 cups water
- 3/4 cup sugar (you can add up to 1/4 cup more if your peaches aren't super sweet)
- 10 leaves lemon verbena (optional)
- 3 fat strips lemon zest (removed with a vegetable peeler)
- Pulp and pod from 1/2 vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons crème de cassis, crème de framboise or Chambord
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
- For the raspberry sauce:
- 1/2 pint fresh raspberries
- For the vanilla ice cream:
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups cream
- 1 cup milk
- 1 1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- Lightly whipped cream, for finishing the sundae
- Fresh raspberries, for finishing the sundae (optional)
- Toasted sliced or slivered almonds, for finishing the sundae (optional)
To poach the peaches: Bring a pot of water to the boil. Drop in the peaches, count to 20, then remove them with a slotted spoon and slip off their skins.
Empty the pot, add the water and sugar and boil until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon verbena, if you're using it, the lemon zest and the vanilla bean. (If you're using vanilla extract, hold on to it—you'll add it later.) Bring the mixture to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Drop in the peaches and poach them gently for 10 minutes. If there isn't enough liquid to immerse the peaches, cover the pot and turn the peaches frequently. Carefully transfer the peaches to a container that will hold them and the liquid. Stir in the liqueur and the vanilla extract, if you're using it. Taste the syrup and add lemon juice, if you'd like, then pour the poaching syrup over the peaches. Allow the peaches to cool in the syrup. (You can make the peaches up to 3 days in advance and keep them immersed in the syrup, covered and refrigerated.)
To make the raspberry sauce: Purée the berries in a blender or food processor. You can either leave the sauce as is, with the seeds, or strain it. Add 1 tablespoon – more if you'd like – of peach syrup and cover and chill until needed. (The sauce will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.)
To make the ice cream: Beat the eggs and sugar together until the mixture turns pale. Add the cream, milk and vanilla and churn, following the instructions that came with your ice cream machine. Transfer the ice cream to a container and freeze for at least 2 hours, or until it is scoopable.