An easy and crowd-pleasing dessert. A few ingredients and it is a done deal: untouched big peaches, crispy amaretti cookies, dark chocolate and little else. Evenly combine everything for a crazy good dessert: get a spoon to fully enjoy it! Taste to believe!
It is one of the most popular desserts in Northern Italy just before summer ends when peaches are wonderfully ripe and pleasantly fragrant. Notably, this recipe is from Piedmont, but I came across it while I was flicking through an old cookery book of my granny’s. I was quite surprised because my granny Lea was from Ferrara to the core.
I think it was among my her recipes, because next to my family’s house in the middle of the Po river valley, there were and still there are some wonderful fruit groves. The previous peaches groves have been replaced by pear ones over the years.
This recipe wants super ripe and aromatic peaches. As a child, I liked picking them up from trees …they were unbelievably exquisite. Sweet memories are coming to my mind: I used to pick them up with my granny in the late afternoon: they were warm and deliciously scented.
We cut the peaches along the equator and twisted the two sides to remove the pit, operation which was not very easy! I had to practice hard to get the right technique: you can’t squeeze them-they are not oranges, you have to hold one half tight with one hand, then twist the other. Of course, I used to squeeze them onto my clothes and my granny’s! My mum was very happy … she had to remove plenty of stains!
How to choose the right peaches
First, untouched peaches. Choose firm and smooth fruits without spots or blemishes because they go bad very fast, even when they are not ripe. Don’t buy any hard peaches with green tinges because they have been picked up too early: in your house they won’t ripen properly and they will get tasteless (or they will taste like a turnip). If peaches are picked up too early, they don’t become sweeter or more flavorful, so they may spoil your recipe.
Buy only as many peaches as you need as they won’t last longer.
What kind of peach should I opt for?
Buy yellow peaches with downy skin. White ones don’t fit this recipe very much as they are too juicy and they will fall apart during the cooking process.
Store peaches properly before using them
Hand peaches gently and wash them just before the use. Keep the fruits well apart to prevent them from going bad faster.
If they are not completely ripe, keep them at room temperate for a few days. To quicken the softening of the fruit, place in a pierced paper bag for 3 or 4 days at room temperature.
Once soft, store them in the fridge and bring cold peaches to room temperature before using to bring out their full flavor; they will be also easier to use.
A thousand recipes of baked stuffed peaches
Not one, but plenty of toothsome recipes from the easiest ones to the most elaborated to please everyone and every skill.
I like the variation which wants this stuffing: peach flesh, amaretti cookies, shredded chocolate, and brown sugar.
Somebody blends the stuffing until creamy and velvety, I don’t because I like the contrast between the smooth flesh of the peaches and the crunchy amaretti.
A few recipes want an egg in the stuffing and top the halved peaches with a little butter before baking, for a more robust texture.
If you are short in time, scoop out the flesh and stuff the hollowed peaches only with amaretti cookies you have previously soaked with rum.
It is up to you, choose the variations you like the best. Even if the recipes are not easy, they will always be mouthwatering.
A few variants which make this dessert super scrumptious
Besides the stuffing, you may also vary the recipe according to the follows:
- Enrich the filling with roughly chopped almonds;
- Use canned peaches for a sweeter and softer dessert;
- Add a spoon of cinnamon to the filling;
- Replace rum with Marsala wine or amaretto for a stronger taste;
- On the other hand, if you don’t like the strong taste of the liqueur, do not marinate the peaches in rum, but just add a small glass to the filling for a more delicate dessert.
- Baked peaches make a really tempting and succulent dessert at the end of an important dinner: serve them warm sided with some whipped cream or a scoop of ice-cream.
When can you eat baked stuffed peaches?
They make a wonderful snack in the middle of the afternoon, or a toothsome dessert at the end of a dinner with friends, as well.
The basics of the recipe
- Choose only untouched and fragrant peaches;
- Do not squeeze the peaches while trying hard to remove the pit; use a small sharp knife, instead;
- Do not peel them-they won’t lose their shape;
- I’d rather use the oven: I know it is hot, switching on the oven makes you feel sick, but you won’t have the same result if you cook peaches in a pan;
- Before baking, cover the tray with a foil: the peaches will cook evenly and they won’t get dry. Do not close it too tight but just place it over the peaches to protect them from the upper heating element. Just before taking the tray out of the oven, remove the foil for a crisp topping and a stronger taste;
- Bake them at medium temperature for longer time to prevent them from getting too dry;
- The baking time depends on the texture of the peaches: if they are quite compact, bake them for about 50-60 minutes; very ripe peaches can be done in 20-25 minutes: keep the baking process under control not to overcook them;
- In case of canned peaches, bake them no more than 10 minutes;
- Prepare baked peaches and let them rest overnight: they will get heavenly scrumptious the following day.
How should perfect baked peaches result?
They have to be cut with a spoon or a fruit knife (so not very sharp one). Baked peaches have to soft.
The flesh should remain tender and the filling (it depends whether you have used an egg or not) should be aromatic and quite coarse, a magic contrast in every small bite-the sweet and soft texture of the peach with the strong and grainy mix of chocolate and cookies.
Baked amaretti and chocolate stuffed peaches
- 4 big yellow untouched peaches
- 50 gr dry amaretti or dry (possibly almond) cookies
- 50 gr dark chocolate to grate or dark chocolate chips
- 3 glasses liquor, rum or amaretto
- 1 tbs dark cocoa powder (extra)
- 1 tbsp a bit of butter to top each peach (for a softer filling) (extra)
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- Carefully wash the peaches;
- Cut them into two halves and twist the two side to remove the pit more easily. Be gentle, do not squeeze the peaches- if you find it difficult use a small sharp knife. Discard any traces of the pit including the tiny part near the stem;
- Scoop out some flesh and place it into a bowl;
- Dilute the liquor with some water to your taste and pour it onto the peaches: let them marinate no longer than 10 minutes;
- In the meanwhile, add the crumbled amaretti to the bowl with the flesh of the peaches: stir vigorously with a spoon to combine. If the flesh starts to darken and deteriorate, drizzle with a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon. Add here the dark chocolate powder to taste;
- Mix until well combined and then add the coarsely grated chocolate;
- Drain the halves of the peaches from the marinade; lay them cut side- up in a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Make the filling more compact and spoon it into cavities;
- Sprinkle the peaches with brown sugar;
- Pre-heat the static oven at 160-170°C (320-340°F). Cover the peaches with a tinfoil and bake for about 40 minutes; remove the foil and bake for 5-10 minutes more until golden and crispy.
Tips to cook unripe peaches
If the peaches are unripe or too compact, they may not cook very well- if this happens combine half glass of water and half a shot glass of rum or the liqueur you have used for the marinade and a generous tbsp. of multifloral honey. Stir well and brush it on the hard peaches- continue to bake until fragrant and tender. Believe me, they will get absolutely delicious!
What can you do if you have any peaches left?
I don’t think you will have any peaches left. In any case, store baked peaches in an airtight container in the fridge up to 2 or 3 days. Keep in mind: if baked peaches rest overnight, they get even more scrumptious. Slightly warm them and enjoy!