When it comes to dessert, having a combination of contrasting flavors can really help enhance the overall dish. Adding a sweet, tart, or citrusy fruit to a velvety scoop of ice cream, for example, can make for a truly luscious treat.
Peach Melba has been a beloved dessert for many decades. But did you know it was actually created by Auguste Escoffier? January 13 is National Peach Melba Day, and to celebrate this occasion we’re exploring the backstory of this famous dessert and giving you a decadent modern day version to try at home.
La Pêche Melba’s Origin Story
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Australian opera singer Nellie Melba was making quite a name for herself on the international stage. Famed French Chef Auguste Escoffier was working at the Savoy Hotel in London’s West End while Nellie was staying as a guest and performing at Covent Garden.
Escoffier attended Nellie’s production of Lohengrin and the following evening, served her a dessert of vanilla ice cream with peaches atop a swan ice sculpture – a tribute to the swan-shaped boat featured in the opera the previous night. Not only did the dessert go over well with Nellie, but it became a wildly popular offering of Escoffier’s, eventually becoming the world-renowned dessert we know today as Peach Melba.
Modern Peach Melba Recipe
While making traditional Peach Melba is always an option, you may want to try a more multifaceted recipe. This advanced dish requires quite a bit of time and effort, but culminates in a spectacularly complex take on the original Peach Melba concoction.
Specialized Tools and Equipment
Silicone 3D peach mold (Pavoni)
Silicone 15-20g sphere mold (Pavoni)
Air Brush or sprayer with compressor
Heat gun or micro torch
Flavorful Peach Compote
450g Peaches (fresh or frozen)
8g Peach Schnapps
½ Vanilla bean
1g Orange zest
20g Lemon juice
90g Apricot preserves
- Dice the peaches into uniform 1/8” small dice.
- Place all of the ingredients into a small saucepan. Heat the mixture slowly until it reaches a simmer to concentrate flavor and slightly thicken.
- Remove from the pan and allow the compote to cool in the refrigerator.
- Fill the cavities of a flexible silicone sphere mold and freeze overnight.
An Almond Streusel Base
160g Turbinado sugar
128g Almond flour
128g AP flour
160g Butter, cold
12g Peach schnapps
- Combine the sugar, almond flour, AP flour and salt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Blend until combined.
- Add the schnapps and the butter in small pieces. Mix on low speed just enough to form small pea-sized pieces of streusel. Stop the mixer occasionally to adjust the size of particles by hand, pressing any remaining dry ingredients together with butter and breaking up the larger pieces.
- Sprinkle approximately a ½” of streusel mixture into 2 ½” circles using a metal cutter or ring placed on a sil pat or parchment lined sheet pan. Slightly depress the center with the back of a spoon to create a cavity. Gently remove the ring and repeat this process.
- Slightly chill the streusel discs prior to baking to help them hold their shape.
- Bake the streusel discs at 350°F until golden brown, approximately 8-12 min.
The Perfect Peach Bavarian
420g Peach purée
600g Heavy cream
- Whip the heavy cream to soft peaks and reserve cold.
- To prepare a Creme Anglaise, scald the milk with half the sugar. Temper the hot milk into the yolks and remaining sugar.
- Cook the Anglaise to nappé consistency and immediately strain through a fine chinoise.
- Bloom the gelatin in cold water and add to the hot Anglaise to fully melt.
- Add the peach purée and cool the mixture to 85°F/29°F in a large bowl.
- Fold the whipped cream into the peach anglaise using a whisk and rubber spatula to fully incorporate. The Peach Bavarian will be aerated but slightly fluid.
- Immediately pour or pipe the mixture into silicone peach molds to approximately 2/3 full.
- Place a frozen peach compote sphere into each cavity and cover with the remaining Peach Bavarian.
- Freeze overnight before unmolding.
Put On the Finishing Touches
- Unmold the Peach Bavarians and arrange on a sheet tray lined with parchment or silicone mat. To facilitate easier handling, lightly press a metal skewer into the top of each where the stem would be. Return the peaches to the freezer.
*Tip: a metal skewer may be slightly heated to remove from the desserts during plating.
- Prepare a chocolate chablon mixture using 1 part cocoa butter to 2 parts white chocolate. Melt the mixture to a temperature of 120°F/49°F. Add a small amount of yellow and orange cocoa butter or fat soluble colorant to achieve a peach color. Remove a small quantity and add more fat soluble red color or cocoa butter for use in shading and as an accent color. Cool the mixture to 100°F/37°F in a narrow, tall container to help facilitate dipping.
- Cover your work surface in plastic or paper to contain overspray.
- Quickly dip the Peach Bavarians into the white chocolate-cocoa butter chablon mixture allowing the excess to run off the bottom and place back onto the sheet pan.
- Using an airbrush or paint sprayer, spray the frozen peaches with the chablon mixture to create a velvet texture. Spray a small accent of the reserved red chablon mixture on one side to accent the peaches.
*Tip: Slightly warm the air brush or sprayer parts for the best results.
- Keep the peaches cold, leaving the skewer in place until ready for service.
Plate and Serve Your Peachy Sensation
- Place one of the Almond Streusel discs onto a large flat dessert plate using a small amount of apricot or raspberry jam to secure it in the center.
- Apply a small amount of raspberry sauce or puree to the plate.
- Place a frozen Peach Bavarian onto the streusel disc and remove the skewer.
*Tip: heating the top of the metal skewer with a heat gun or torch helps release it from the dessert. Be careful not to melt the exterior of the dessert or burn your fingers.
- Allow the Peach Bavarian to temper slightly prior to serving for the best temperature.
- Garnish with a chocolate stem, leaf, and fresh raspberry sauce or purée.
Get Good at Making Great Desserts
Whether you’re an aspiring master baker or simply want to try your hand at complex desserts and pastries, an educational foundation can make all the difference. Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts offers degrees and diplomas in the Baking and Pastry Arts both online or in-person at our Boulder and Austin Campuses.
Join accomplished Chef Instructors in learning your way around a bakeshop and exploring advanced pastry techniques. Who knows? Maybe you’ll create the next world-famous dessert!
Want more recipes from the Escoffier Chef Instructor archives? Try these next: