The Season of the Frozen Stone Fruit
How could I let a whole summer pass by without making a recipe with fresh Georgia peaches? They are up there with pecans, Coca Cola, Delta Airlines, and sports teams that disappoint as the pride and joy of this state. Many of you are very familiar with articles and blogs making the “best recipe ever” claim. I am always careful to use this terminology as there are lots of brilliant minds out there publishing recipes. This really is the best peach sorbet recipe and I’ll tell you exactly why.
Fresh ‘In Season’ Peaches – Fresh, local, and ripe peaches. Is there any other way to make a recipe? Take advantage of the seasons. Let nature tell you when it’s time to make a recipe. Buy local whenever the opportunity presents itself. The less distance produce has to travel, the better. And make sure the fruit is ripe and ready to be eaten.
The Diverse Use of Peaches – I’m a really big fan of finding more than one way to incorporate the main ingredient into a dish. Different preparations contribute different textures and flavors. For instance, whenever I use chili peppers in a dish, I often cook some and leave others raw. Here, fresh peaches are used to make the base, peach schnapps is added to jazz up the sorbet, and lastly, grilled peaches are used as sort of a garnish. When you decide on a main ingredient, jump in with both feet.
The Presence of Almonds – You’ve heard of some very classic flavor combinations: peanut butter and chocolate, peas and carrots, cinnamon and apple, etc. One you may not have heard of happens to be almonds and peaches. Almonds are relatives of stone fruits, like peaches, plums, and cherries. They have the aromatic molecule ‘benzaldehyde’ in common with peaches and other stone fruits. Foods with similar molecular compounds together, stay together (see what I did there?). Here, almond extract is used to flavor the simple syrup and toasted almonds are used as a garnish.
Technique – Peeling the peaches for a more refined product, pre-chilling the sorbet base for quicker freezing, putting the simple syrup together, adding salt and lime to season the mix, pureeing the peaches until smooth, correctly freezing the base, etc.
First up, we’re going to prepare the almond simple syrup. Simple syrups are ‘simple’ to make, and this is also an excellent way to sweeten a tea or coffee drink. The ratio is equal parts sugar to water. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil, then stir in 1 cup of sugar until dissolved. This only takes 30 seconds. Remove from heat, and add 2 tsp of almond extract. Let cool.
Now we remove the skins from the peaches. This is actually very easy if you know how to do it. Score the bottom of the peaches by cutting an “x” with your knife. Drop them in boiling water for 10 seconds, remove and peel. Not having chunks of peach skin floating around in our sorbet will give us a more refined product. If you want, it’s not a crime to leave the skins.
Puree the peaches in a blender or food processor until very smooth – careful not to leave any chunks. We’re going for restaurant/judges table quality here. In a mixing bowl, combine with the almond simple syrup, juice of 1 lime, 3 tbsp of peach schnapps, and a couple of pinches of salt. The lime juice adds a nice acidic note to the sorbet, as well as enhancing the peach flavor. As always, don’t leave out the salt. Not even in desserts.
Now for the freezing process. It’s a real good idea to pre-chill the sorbet base in the freezer for about an hour, or right before it begins the freeze. The faster the base freezes, the smaller the ice crystals, and the smoother the texture. Already having it real cold will speed up this process. I also throw my paddle attachment in the freezer for the same reason. Proceed to freeze the sorbet according to your ice cream maker’s manufacturer’s instructions. Place in a container, cover with plastic wrap over the top, and send it to hibernate in the freezer for a while.
Grill some peaches, for just a couple of minutes on each side until you get some nice marks, remove. Toast some sliced almonds in a dry skillet. Scoop, garnish with the grilled peaches, toasted almonds, and a spring of mint. Enjoy!
1 cup of water
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 tsp of almond extract
2- 2 1/2 lbs of fresh local peaches
1 lime, juiced
3 tbsp peach schnapps
2 pinches of kosher salt
grilled peaches, for garnish
toasted almonds, for garnish
sprig of mint
For the almond simple syrup
Bring 1 cup of water to a boil, add sugar, and stir for about 30 seconds, or until sugar is dissolved. Remove and add the almond extract.
For the sorbet
Score the peaches on the bottom with a knife, then boil for about 10 seconds. Remove and peel. Separate the pits, then process in a blender until smooth. In a mixing bowl, combine the peach puree with the simple syrup, lime juice, peach schnapps, and kosher salt. Place mixture into freezer to “pre-chill” for about an hour. Be careful not to freeze. Freeze in an ice cream maker, according to manufacturer instructions, then place back into freezer for a few hours. Cut two peaches into eights, then grill for a couple of minutes on each side. Next, toast some sliced almonds in a dry skillet, then remove. Scoop the sorbet, then garnish with the grilled peaches, almonds and mint.