The seasons are changing. That's what the fruit stall is telling me. The mangoes have, except for a few langras and chausas, more or less left the market. And so have the cherries. The apples and pears have started making an appearance and even a few chikoos. And of course, there's also the last of the plums and peaches.
To be precise, more of the plums, the peaches have hardly made their mark this season. Since they come all the way from up north, you rarely find good ones. They are either all yellow on the outside with none of that beautiful peachy blush that one expects from them or they are absolutely lacking in taste. And yet, for some inexplicable reason, we picked up a few, only to have them lie around in the fruit basket with no one willing to eat them.
You then do the next best thing to make the fruit more palatable. You roast them! In this case with some cinnamon and brown sugar but you could also use honey, vanilla or even some orange juice. Normally, I would have served them with some vanilla ice-cream and be done with it. But I had seen this idea of crushed almond praline in the 'What Katie Ate' book that she serves with roasted peaches that sent me down that road.
The almond praline is easy to make. All you have to do is caramelise some sugar and then pour it over the roasted almonds. Once it sets, break it up into shards and then for this dessert, crush them into a crumble. Although the darker you caramelise the sugar, the more bitter it will be, so use your discretion on how bitter you would like it.
Roasting the peaches softens them down as they get cooked in their own juices and the sugar takes the edge of the tartness. The cold vanilla ice-cream contrasts beautifully with the warm, roasted peaches. And just when you think, it would all get a bit too sweet, the bitter, caramel flavour of the praline counters that as well as giving some much appreciated textural crunch.
However, I am left wondering if I should have added some kind of orange or lemon juice while roasting the peaches. That would have resulted in some sort of syrup which would be ideal to pour over the ice-cream.
Let's be clear .. this is not so much a dessert to wow the guests as more of a way to finish off the not-so-ideal fruit that is simply lying around. Having said that, since there is such little work to be done, it is a delightful, unfussy dessert for an informal week night dinner.
Roasted Peaches With Crushed Almond Praline
For the peaches
For the peaches
- 3 peaches, halved and pitted
- 1 1/2 tablespoon demerara/brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 cup whole almonds
- 1/8 cup fine white sugar
- 1 teaspoon water
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 deg C.
- Place the pitted and halved peaches in a shallow baking dish.
- Combine the cinnamon with the brown sugar and sprinkle all over the peaches. If you are peaches are firm and not too sweet, be a little more generous with the sugar.
- Roast the peaches until they are tender and you can cut through them with a knife.
- While the peaches are roasting, you can get on with making the praline.
- Roast the whole almonds. I do it in the microwave (On high for a minute). Place the roasted almonds on a aluminium foil or a greased dish.
- Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and place it on a low heat. Cook until the sugar has dissolved, swirling the pan around to ensure that all sugar is dissolved.
- Increase the heat. Boil the mixture for another five minutes or so, without stirring until the mixture turns light to golden brown. The darker the mixture, the more bitter it will be.
- Switch off the heat and then pour the sugar syrup all over the almonds. Be very careful the sugar syrup is very hot.
- Once the sugar syrup has solidified on the almonds, break the praline into shards. Then grind into a coarse texture with the help of a food processor.
- Serve the peaches with vanilla ice-cream with some of the crushed almond praline sprinkled over.