It’s peach season again when my favorite white peaches are available. It’s not that I don't like common yellow peaches, it’s just that white peaches seem more exotic in both taste and look.
When I crave them, I head for local peach orchards in my area or my farmers market. When I pick my own, I look for not only uniform and deeply colored peaches but also for those that give into a little pressure at the stem end when pressed with my fingers. That tells me that they are ripe. Peaches are either freestone or clingstone because of the large pit inside. This means that the pit is either hard and clinging to the flesh or super easy to remove. I prefer freestone, especially if I am putting up jars of peaches
Once home, I place them in a dish or tray in a single layer, not piled on top of one another because they will bruise very easily. Never refrigerate them as that would just destroy their delicate flavor.
There are so many uses for peaches from making pies and jams to chutneys and even grilling them! On a hot day, pureed peaches make a great Bellini with prosecco wine. Still, a juicy peach is best savored when eaten out of hand as a tribute to late summer.
Peaches and Cream
This refreshing no-bake casserole is one of my favorite summertime desserts and it all has to do with heavenly white peaches, what the Italians call pesca bianca. For my money, their white flesh and perfumed taste can’t be beat. I like to mix them with white nectarines and fold them into slightly sweetened whipped cream. The crunch comes from amaretti di Saronno, those tiny almond cookies from northern Italy.
Peaches and Cream
20 amaretti cookies, crushed to a fine consistency
8 tablespoons melted, and cooled butter
4 large white peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into thin slices
2 large white nectarines, peeled, pitted and cut into thin slices
Juice of 1 large lemon
2 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Combine the amaretti crumbs in a bowl with the melted butter and mix well to combine. Press half the cookies into an 8 inch square pan and refrigerate. Set the rest aside.
Combine the peaches and nectarines in a separate bowl with the lemon juice and set aside.
Whip the cream in a large bowl on high speed until stiff; stir in the sugar and the almond extract.
Drain the peaches and nectarines in a colander and fold into the whipped cream. Spread the mixture evenly and carefully over the amaretti.
Sprinkle the remaining amaretti over the top.
Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
Scoop to serve.
Tip Amaretti di Saronno work best in this recipe; find them in Italian specialty stores, on line, or in grocery stores. Substitute vanilla wafer cookies if amaretti are unavailable.