Friday, August 10, 2012

Peach Melba – Let's Toast to a Great Summer Fruit Dessert

You know you have mad opera skills when they name not one, but two recipes after you. This spectacularly colored Peach Melba was created for Victorian era opera star Nellie Melba, by the greatest chef of the time, Auguste Escoffier, who also named some thin, crispy toasts in her honor years later.

This was kind of a big deal, as Escoffier was known at the time as "the king of chefs, and chef of kings." He was arguably the world’s first celebrity chef. His masterwork, Le Guide Culinaire, has over 5,000 recipes in it, and is a fascinating browse the next time you’re in a real bookstore (do we still have those?).

Anyway, Peach Melba is a delicious and simple, summer fruit dessert, which is kind of ironic, since Auguste Escoffier was famous for his elaborate culinary creations. In fairness, his original plating did feature the ice cream and peaches being carried in on swans carved from ice, so things have been streamlined a bit over the years.

Here we have creamy vanilla ice cream, a perfectly poached peach, topped off with fresh raspberry sauce and toasted almonds. This tastes like I’m sure Nellie Melba’s voice sounded. I do hope you give this historic dish a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 servings:
3 peaches, halved
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 tablespoons lemon juice
For the raspberry sauce:
3 cups fresh raspberries (yes frozen will work)
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tbsp water
1/8 tsp balsamic vinegar

View the complete recipe


Nadya said...

Escoffier? I thought that Antonin Carême was the world's first celebrity chefs.

Chef John said...

One could argue that fact, but since Escoffier stole all Careme's idea and became even more famous, I do with him! ;) I'd consider Careme the first Master Chef.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

This looks delicious! And I'm eager to try it, but I'm not sure where to find vanilla bean...can I use vanilla extract instead?

Chef John said...


Gregory Peggory said...

Hmmm, I wonder if coconut or lemon ice cream would work instead of vanilla.
I'm no flavour matching expert but I like the sound of it!

Steve said...


Two words: food porn.

Beautiful dish, beautiful presentation.

Grams Pam said...

Making this just to have another excuse to use the freakishly small wooden spoon that you and Michelle sent with the first sales of SFQ sauce!

(ps: SFQ = best sauce evah!)

PH said...

Oh, Yum! I could have a few helpings of those.

Mama said...

Peachalious! Can't wait for some of your desserts when you come. Hurry, hurry.

Vinny from NH said...

A freakishly small spoon AND a dessert food wish? You are awesomesauce in chef form.

Gurdiak Tinar said...

Looks amazing, one question, I live in Costa Rica and raspberries are really difficult to come by, do you think the recipe could work woth strawberries?

Gurdiak Tinar said...

Thanks, it looks amazing, one question, raspberries are really hard to get in Costa Rica, do you think it would work with strawberries?

Anonymous said...

Can I use Sherry vinegar or White Wine vinegar instead of Balsamic? Or better to leave it out altogether?

Anonymous said...

two words: Delicious.

Unknown said...

Chef John, what do you think about adding some almond extract to the poaching liquid along with the vanilla bean?

Chef John said...

Could be good, give it a try!

Jenny said...

Hello Chef John from London England,

Can i make these with nectarines? Aka shaved peaces with no hairy skin?

My food would be taramasalata with the smoked cods roe. Thanks!

Jenny D