I don’t expect everyone to know about the Corrado family from which I originate, so I’ll just fill you in. The strongly accented, off the boat Italians always eat salad at the end of a meal and every occasion involves a 12-course menu with pasta as the main course. I also have an Uncle whom my family literally refers to as “Louie the Painter,” and 57 cousins that I can’t keep track of. Capisce? (translation: do you understand?)
For me to turn down the opportunity to review an Italian dessert book would be quite preposterous. How could you say no to Cannoli’s, Panna Cotta Torte, Pizzelle and Struffoli? Grace’s Sweet Life offered close to 200 pages of exquisite drool worthy photographs and she had me hooked from page one!
Flipping through the mouthwatering pages, I tried to keep in mind that it was 95 degrees outside. Although a piece of rich chocolaty seven-layer cake was rarely turned down by my taste buds, I searched for something with a summer flare to it. Maybe fruity? I’ll admit, at first I was a little intimidated when perusing. There were a lot of ingredients I didn’t typically use. However, I found after everything was said and done (and eaten) that just because I rarely used it, didn’t mean the recipe would be complicated.
Baked Peaches with Amaretti and Walnut Filling was my final decision. Can you blame me? A combination of the enticing picture, delicious ingredients and a personal peach inventory sealed the deal. My impatience never nailed me as a baker but I escaped the urge to “make this work with what I’ve got” and ventured to the grocery store.
After a quick preparation period the journey started with a simple dry ingredients/wet ingredients mix. Be sure to buy ripe peaches because the step where you hollow them out would be quite tedious otherwise. Popping the filled peach casings into the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes filled my apartment with a scent fit for the heavens and the final result was like nothing I ever tasted before. It definitely would have made my ancestor’s proud.
Cooking later in the hot, hot day, I enjoyed the finished product with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Grace suggests mascarpone cheese or sweetened whip cream as well, and with those additions, you might even consider enjoying the sweet treat for breakfast. After all, it’s too delicious to be postponed for an evening dessert!
Baked Peaches with Amaretti and Walnut Filling
- 4 large or 6 medium peaches
- 42 small amaretti cookies (120 g or 4.5 oz.) crushed
- ¼ cup plus 2 ¼ teaspoons (56 g) golden cane sugar or turbinado sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons (11 g) unsweetened cocoa, sifted
- 3 ounces (85 g) good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
- ¼ cup (28 g) walnut, coarsely chopped
- 2 large egg yolks
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 to 2 tablespoons rum
- 1 tablespoon strong brewed coffee
- ¼ cup (56 g) unsalted butter
- brown sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
- mascarpone cheese, Sweetened Whipped Cream or vanilla ice cream, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (180 degrees C). Butter the bottom of a large, shallow ovenproof dish.
- Seal the amaretti cookies in a zip-top plastic bag and crush them finely with a rolling pin, or pulse in a food processor. Transfer the crushed cookies to a medium bowl. Stir in the sugar, cocoa, chocolate, and walnuts
- In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks, vanilla, rum, and coffee with a fork. Stir the egg mixture into the cookie mixture until well combined. (If mixture is too wet, add a few more crushed amaretti cookies)
- Cut the peaches in half and remove the stones. Using the melon baler or spoon, carefully scoop on the flesh, in order to create a space for the filling. In a small bowl, mash the extra peach flesh with a fork and then add it to the filling. Stir to combine well.
- Arrange the peaches cut-side up in the prepared dish. Divide the filling equally among the peaches and dot the top of each filled peach with the butter. If using brown sugar, sprinkle over the peaches. Bake until the peaches are tender but firm, 30 to 35 minutes.
- Serve warm with mascarpone, sweetened whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.