peaches, the highlight of summer fruit… bite in and their soft, fuzzy skin gives way to fragrant sweetness - the heady rich flavor of yellow peaches and the floral perfume of white peaches. but you have to work to enjoy these delicate fruits. first, don’t even think of letting the cashier stuff them in with the rest of your groceries; bring a separate bag for the peaches. when you get home, don’t wash them since their fuzz is a protective coating. instead, lay them on a dishtowel-lined tray so they don’t touch each other, which prevents bruising and rotting. then wait for them to ripen, usually about 2 days depending on how ripe they are when you buy them. then, and only then, are you free to indulge! just rinse and dig in. i suggest buying a lot because many will end up in your stomach before they make it into the recipe below. but when they do, you will not be disappointed.
panna cotta (simply italian for “cooked cream”) is one of my favorite summer treats. it’s an easy mixture of dairy and gelatin, which results in a fun and wobbly dessert that can be rich and sweet or light and tangy. either way, panna cotta can be paired with many delicious fruits. i created the following recipe in a search for a slightly healthier panna cotta that would bring out the full flavor of peaches. using half + half and low-fat buttermilk (instead of the usual milk and heavy cream) achieves a creamy, tangy panna cotta with about half the fat of a standard recipe. and the addition of cinnamon and nutmeg to the peaches and throughout the panna cotta lends a deep, unusual spiciness to the whole dessert!
peachy keen panna cotta
1/2 cup half + half
1 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
2 peaches, peeled and cut in 1/4″ dice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp sugar
1. pour the half + half into a saucepan and sprinkle the surface with gelatin. let stand for 10 min.
2. in a small bowl, mix the peaches with cinnamon and nutmeg until evenly coated. set aside.
3. in another small bowl, combine the buttermilk and vanilla. set aside.
4. heat the half + half and gelatin over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until it measures 135° on a candy thermometer, about 2 minutes. remove from the heat and stir in sugar until dissolved.
5. stirring constantly, pour buttermilk into half + half mixture. also add any juice that has collected at the bottom of the peach mixture, but reserve the peaches themselves.
6. pour dairy mixture into a medium bowl and place in an ice water bath. stir frequently until mixture starts to thicken, about 10 minutes.
8. set 4 ramekins on a baking tray. spoon 1/4 of the peach mixture into each ramekin, then pour 1/4 of the panna cotta on top.
9. cover the ramekins with plastic wrap, making sure not to let the plastic wrap touch the mixture. cool in fridge for 4 hours or overnight.
10. to serve, hold each ramekin in a bowl of very hot water for about 30 seconds to loosen the mixture. invert over a plate and shake the ramekin gently if needed until the panna cotta comes out. if it doesn’t come out the first time, simply hold in the hot water a little longer and try again!
candy thermometer: any food-safe thermometer that can measure high temperatures, up to about 400°f.
ramekin: a small ceramic or glass dish used for panna cotta, creme brulee, or souffles. for panna cotta, make sure the mouth of the ramekin is equal to or wider than the bottom.
and if you have peaches left over, check out these great recipes:
What’s Gaby Cooking: Peach and Blueberry Cobbler
In Jennie’s Kitchen: Easy Peach Preserves
Daily Dishin: Fresh Peaches and Cream No-Bake Pie
Cooking with Books: Peaches and Cream Cheesecake
Cooking With My Kid: Peach & Friends Cobbler Pie
White on Rice Couple: Peach Heirloom Tomato Salad
Cooking With Elise: Bruschetta with Grilled Peach Chutney
FN Dish: Summer Fest: Peach Recipes
Taste With The Eyes: Warm White Peach and Blackberry Cobbler
Recipe Girl: Fresh Peach Pie
A Way to Garden: Farm Fresh Peaches Frozen to Perfection
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Fresh Peach Cookies
Sweet Life Bake: Sweet Peach Ancho Chile Salsa
Indian Simmer: Indian Peach Gujiya
Pinch My Salt: Creamy Peach Smoothie
Dixie Chik Cooks: Peach Cobbler
Healthy Eats: 8 Ways You Didn’t Know You Could Eat Peaches
Cooking Channel: Peaches on the Grill
Add a Pinch: My Grandmother’s Peach Cobbler
And Love It Too: Pan Seared Salmon with Fresh Peach Salsa
The Sensitive Epicure: A Summer Peach Tart, Gluten-Free
From My Corner of Saratoga: Double Caramel Peaches
She Wears Many Hats: Peach Wontons
I Am Mommy: Peach Bread