Nick Malgieri
Nick Malgieri

Baked Peaches with Macaroon Filling

This is a classic Italian dish often known as Pesche alla Piemontese, peaches in the style of Piedmont, though I'm not sure exactly why. Piedmont is where the rare and costly white truffles come from, but I've never read or heard that it is a peach-growing area, and as far as the macaroon filling is concerned, hazelnuts would be more like it; Piedmont is covered with hazelnut trees. In any case, this is an easy, light, and excellent summer dessert for the middle to the end of the season, when you feel like doing something more than just eating a perfectly ripe, juicy peach as is.

You'll need some packaged Italian amaretti for the filling, and they're not particularly difficult to find. If you don't fine the most common brand, Lazzaroni, packed in the bright red tins, you can also find other brands that usually come packaged in a cellophane bag.

Makes 5 servings (2 peach halves per serving)

6 large, ripe freestone peaches (about 1 1/2 pounds) rinsed, halved, pitted, but not peeled
1/4 cup sugar
10 packaged amaretti, finely crushed
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

One 2- to 2 1/2-quart enameled-iron gratin dish or other similar-size baking dish, sprayed with vegetable cooking spray

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  2. Arrange 10 of the peach halves in the prepared pan, rounded side down.
  3. Coarsely dice the two remaining peach halves and place them in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse to chop finely, but stop before the peaches become a smooth liquid.
  4. Scrape the chopped peaches into a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar, crushed amaretti, and egg yolk.
  5. Cover the cut side of each peach half with some of the amaretti mixture, distributing it among them with a large spoon. The mixture is a little runny (more so if the peaches are more pureed than chopped). Don't worry if some if the topping runs off the peaches.
  6. Use a small pastry brush to sprinkle some of the melted butter over the topping on each peach half.
  7. Bake the peaches for about 45 minutes, or until the peaches have softened and the topping is a deep golden color.
  8. Cool on a rack.

Serving: Serve the peaches, warm, at room temperature, or lightly chilled.

Storage: Keep at room temperature until you intend to serve the peaches, or cover with plastic and refrigerate until about an hour beforehand. Cover and refrigerate leftovers.