Peach Melba – Nellie and her Prince.
Sadly, many of the recipes we see for Peach Melba today use canned peaches. These are all very well and good but when this recipe was developed by Auguste Escoffier in 1892 or thereabouts, the lovely, fresh fruit was used.
Famously, the dish was created for Australian Dame Nellie Melba, a celebrated opera singer of the day. At the time, she was having a torrid affair with Prince Philippe, the Duke or Orleans. He had been engaged when he met Nellie (to his cousin) but the engagement was hastily ended when he met the opera singer. Nellie wasn’t free either. She was married, although estranged, and her husband filed for divorce claiming the prince as the co-respondent.
Her husband, Charles Armstrong, was an aristocratic British man who had been sent over to Australia by his despairing family due to his unacceptable behaviour.
This was something of a wake-up call for the prince who realised that maybe his relationship with Nellie could seriously damage his reputation – he had no intention of being cited in court as he was claimant to the French monarchy and was actively seeking the throne. So he arranged to take himself off to Africa for a couple of years.This ended the relationship.
None of which has anything to do with the peach dessert, of course. So if you came to this page looking for the recipe, here it is:
- 6 medium peaches, very ripe
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
- 1 quart vanilla ice cream
- 1 pint fresh raspberries
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- 1 cup very cold whipping cream
- Peel the peaches, slice in half and remove pits
- Set large skillet on the stove and add about one inch of water Add sugar, one part sugar to four parts water approximately, heat and stir to dissolve
- Add vanilla extract to taste
- Set to simmer and add the peaches for about five minutes then remove the peaches and set aside
- Scoop out 12 small scoops of ice cream.Set on a chilled serving platter or chilled individual dishes (two scoops per dish)
- Lightly press one peach half onto each scoop, cut side down.
- Freeze for 5 - 1 minutes but no longer
- Puree the raspberries. Transfer to a bowl and mix with the powdered sugar
- Remove peaches from the freezer, spoon raspberry sauce over then sprinkle with almonds
- In a chilled bowl, whip the cream until stiff.Using a chilled pastry bag, fitted with a small star tip, decorate the tops