I have an adage when it comes to peaches: Travel to the peaches, don’t ask them to travel to you. And when they do arrive as close to home as you can find them, make this simple dessert of peaches topped with meringue.
Buy Fresh, Local Peaches!
I love you, California, but your peaches don’t like to travel, particularly across country. Years of disappointment, spurred by my impatience to grab the first peaches I see in the supermarket, have finally taught me this lesson.
Since I live in Massachusetts, I have to wait until the second half of July for decent local peaches to arrive. (I will often hedge my bets and fall for New Jersey peaches with pretty good luck!)
Sometimes you can find good supermarket peaches imported from other states, but the only way to find out is to buy a few and try them out. If they’re good, go back for more.
With Peaches, Keep It Simple
After eating your fill of peaches on their own, start on the desserts. Since peaches are so juicy and sweet, and their season is so short, they deserve special treatment.
And by that I mean, almost no treatment at all.
Enter this rustic skillet dessert. Toss some sliced peaches (no need to peel them) in brown butter and brown sugar, infuse them with vanilla and almond, and top them with meringue.
After baking, the peaches soften slightly and release their juices. The meringue topping is slightly crisp on the outside but soft and marshmallowy on the inside.
We all know the flavor combination of peaches and cream, but here, the sweet meringue plays off the tart peaches in a new way that lets the tart peaches shine. Be sure to have a bowl and a big spoon on hand to scoop up the soupy juice.
A Versatile Summer Dessert
But wait, there’s more! This is a great recipe to use all kinds of summer stone fruits: nectarines, plums, pluots or apricots, alone or in combination. Throw in some blueberries or raspberries if you have them. These are all great choices.
In other words, this is a “fly by the seat of your pants” dessert. Its burnished cloud of meringue on top has a huge wow factor. A pretty good bang for a minimal amount of effort!
More Ways to Enjoy Summer Peaches!
Summer Peaches with Baked Meringue Recipe
To bring cold eggs to room temperature quickly, set them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes before you separate them.
For the baked peaches:
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tablespoons amaretto (almond liqueur), or 1 teaspoon of pure almond extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 4 medium peaches, halved, pitted and thickly sliced (no need to peel)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
For the meringue topping:
- 4 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup sugar
- Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
- 9 to 10-inch oven-safe skillet or a similar size ceramic baking dish
1 Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Have on hand a 9- to 10-inch oven-safe skillet, or a similar-sized ceramic baking dish.
2 Make the brown butter: In the skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Cook, stirring constantly, until the butter solids turn light brown and the butter smells nutty—about 2 to 3 minutes or so.
Immediately remove the pan from the heat. (If using a baking dish for this dessert, brown the butter in a small skillet and transfer it to the baking dish.)
- Read more about how to brown butter and watch a video HERE.
3 Prepare the peaches: Stir the brown sugar, vanilla, Amaretto, and salt into the brown butter. Add the peaches and toss to coat them with the sugar.
Spread them in the pan and sprinkle with the cinnamon.
4 Make the meringue: In the bowl of a stand mixer on low speed using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar until foamy.
Gradually increase the speed and slowly add the sugar, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, until the meringue is thick and glossy and holds firm peaks. (This takes about 3 to 4 minutes.) Fold in the lemon zest.
5 Bake the peaches: With a large spoon, spoon the meringue over the peaches and swirl it gently to give it pretty peaks.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the meringue is golden brown. It should be firm on top, but still soft in the center.
6 Serve: Cool briefly before serving. This dessert is best eaten on the day you serve it, but leftovers will keep for a few days, refrigerated.
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