Baked Stuffed Peaches
Here’s a dessert you can whip up in no time at all, handles any number of alterations and won’t make you feel like you just downed a block of butter with a carton of cream. We’ve all done enough of that in the last week or two. And I hear some of us may have some New Year’s Resolutions to fulfill.
I first had this dessert in Puglia, on one of those evenings when my step-mother-in-law managed – in a storm of organized chaos – to feed a big group and feed us well. She just halved and pitted some peaches, crumbled amaretti cookies in the center, doused in a little liquor and baked until soft. I was smitten.
Too bad it took me over 2 years to recreate it. In my version, I added a teensy pad of butter and a smidge of brown sugar to each half and, as I had far less (read: 2) amaretti than I thought, I substituted crumbled gingerbread cookies leftover from Christmas. Despite (or because of?) my changes, this was the perfect dessert washed down by some special bubbly on New Year’s Eve. The leftover baked peach halves made for a handsome breakfast the next morning, though we substituted the ice cream for crème fraîche. I wish I could say yogurt, but alas, we’re just not ones for New Year’s resolutions.
BAKED STUFFED PEACHES
Make this dessert in about 5 minutes then pop it in the oven as you sit down to dinner. I’d say you should make about 1 1/2 peaches (3 halves) per person, but it’s really up to you. Any leftovers will make a delicious breakfast. You could use apricots, nectarians, plums or any other stone fruit, and can substitute amaretti with your favorite simple, crunchy cookie. Serve with ice cream, crème fraîche, yogurt or whipped sour cream sweetened and touched up with a splash of port. Because New Year’s resolutions are overrated, don’t you think?
6 ripe peaches, halved and pitted
6 amaretti cookies (or similar such as gingersnaps)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional)
1/8 cup rum, bourbon, amaretto liquor or cointreau
2 – 3 tablespoons butter, cut into 12 pieces (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Crumble a cookie into the center of each peach half, then top with a pinch of brown sugar if using and a little piece of butter if using. Sprinkle the liquor evenly over the peach halves. Bake for 30 minutes or so, until a fork easily pierces the flesh but the fruit is not falling apart. Serve warm with something yummy on the side (see suggestions above).