Baked praline-stuffed peaches with rosewater syrup and vanilla ice cream

This is a very difficult dish to maintain on a restaurant menu because peaches need to be close to perfectly ripe to justify their exotic, luscious reputation; and a steady supply of ripe peaches is frustratingly hard to maintain. If you find a batch, chances are you’ll eat a couple on the way home, so buy extra. The only quantity in this recipe that caters accurately for six people is the number of peaches. Fret not, the ice cream, praline and syrup recipes work perfectly, but they are convenient and sensible minimal volumes to set about making. Praline keeps for ages in a well-sealed container so you might even want to make double this amount; and I’ve never yet seen ice cream go to waste. Some people like their praline to be a fine ground while others like a certain challenge to their dental work in their pleasure. If you are this way inclined, warn your guests first.

Ingredients

For the Praline

  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 60 g whole almonds, lightly roasted

For the Rosewater Syrup

  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 100 g clear honey
  • 100 mls water
  • 2 tsps rosewater
  • 6 large ripe peaches
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 50 g butter, melted

For the Vanilla Ice Cream (makes 1 litre)

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 125 g caster sugar
  • 0.5 litres milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125 mls single or double cream

Method

FIRST MAKE THE PRALINE. Put the sugar in a small, heavy-bottomed pan over the lowest possible heat. Leave it until it has melted and turned golden brown. Immediately you are satisfied, stir in the nuts quickly and remove the lot to a parchment-lined plate or tray and leave it to cool. The sugar should become glass-hard. Break up the praline into smallish pieces, then use a food processor to chop to the texture you want. Store the praline in a dry, well-sealed container.

To make the syrup, simply put the ingredients in a small pan, bring it to the boil and boil for three minutes, then leave it to cool. You should get an almost-clear, slightly thickened pouring consistency. If it is too thick, add a little more water and bring it back to the boil for a few seconds, then cool it again.

Preheat the oven to 375°F (Gas Mark 5). Put the peaches in a bowl and pour over enough boiling water to cover. In two minutes, the skins should slip off easily. Halve them and remove the stones. Take enough praline to fill the twelve cavities and stir in the egg yolk. Fill the peach halves and place them in a shallow, lightly buttered, oven dish, filled side down. Brush the tops with a little butter and bake for 20-30 minutes until they are tender and lightly coloured.

Serve two peach halves per person with a tablespoon of syrup poured over and around each portion, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

WHISK THE EGG YOLKS and sugar together until they become thick and pale. In a pan, heat the milk almost to boiling, then pour it in a slow, steady stream on to the eggs and sugar, with the whisk running on low speed. Return this custard to the pan, heat it gently and simmer, stirring all the time, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain it through a fine sieve, stir in the vanilla and leave it to cool. When it is cold, add the cream and freeze it, preferably using an ice cream maker.