02 August 2010

The Perfect Summer Dessert

My Aunt Dorothy is one of the most interesting women I know.  Really, she is.  She had (and continues to have) a fabulous career in advertising, travels the world and is a phenomenal cook.  Actually, both she and Ed are fabulous cooks.  I love hearing about their latest culinary adventures - both domestic and abroad.  So the other day when she emailed me a recipe for Apricot Gelato (or Gelato di Albicocche) that she had tweaked a bit, I knew I just had to try it. 

Dorothy's Texas-twist on an Italian treat ... using Fredericksburg peaches in place of the apricots.  Brilliant! And incredibly convenient for me considering Mom just brought me half a bushel of those juicy gems.  It's as if the planets aligned and the heavens are willing me to make this gelato.  Who am I to resist Fate?

In the process of making this gelato I learned the coolest trick for removing the skins of peaches. I've always just blanched and shocked the peaches and then peeled the skins off in frustratingly little pieces. Turns out there is a much simpler way to do it. Cut the peaches in half, remove the pits, place them cut-side down on a pan and broil them for about 12 minutes. After they cool a few minutes the skins come right off in huge sheets! (Thanks, Aunt Dorothy, for that tip)

Although there were several steps involved, none of them were particularly difficult and there is a lot of hands-off time in this recipe while you wait for things to cool or freeze.  The only special piece of equipment I needed for this recipe was an ice cream maker.  Everytime the Hubs and I want to make ice cream at home we have to borrow my parents' 25 year old machine, purchase lots of ice and rock salt and babysit the machine outside for the 30+ minutes it takes to freeze the mixtures.  While it makes delicious ice cream it is inconvenient, loud and tough to clean.  This gelato recipe provided me with the perfect excuse to purchase my own quiet, easy to use and easy to clean Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker!  I see many more frozen treats on our future menus.

A quick run-down of Dorothy's procedure:
After broiling and peeling the peaches, chop them in to tiny pieces and let them hang out with some sugar for half an hour. 

When time's up add in some peach preserves, some milk, some cream and a pinch of salt (I forgot that part!) and bring the mixture to a boil. 

Strain it.  Dorothy put her mixture through a food mill, but I just ran mine through a fine mesh sieve.

Be patient, this process takes a little while!  Cool completely.  Overnight is best.  That gives the ice cream maker's bowl a chance to freeze completely, too. 

It made so much gelato mix that I had to freeze it in two batches, but then again, my ice cream maker is only 1 1/2 quarts.  It only took 20 minutes to freeze each batch in the machine and then I let it firm up a little more in my freezer before serving it. 

To say this gelato was delicious is a major understatement.  I'm already making plans to try the recipe again, but with other fruits.  One lady tried it with mulberries and said it was phenomenal. 

You have to check out Silvestro's site, and not just for this recipe, but for others too.  He seems like such a cool guy - cook, sommelier, teacher and photographer!  He also runs the Awaiting Table cooking school in Lecce, Italy... anyone up for a road airplane trip next summer?!?!

1 comment:

Sara said...

Oh my word, that looks wonderful! Thanks for sharing the tip on peeling peaches easily -- we will get a bushel or so of those amazing Fredericksburg peaches every year (minus last year, when they weren't that great) and peel our hands raw in order to freeze the peaches. However, the payoff is great -- there's nothing quite like a bowl of partially-thawed peaches for a treat at any time of the year!