Summer desserts often spotlight fresh fruits as the center of the season’s sweet indulgences. Many of us home cooks, feeling a little weary of the long, long season of apples, pears, and oranges, really look forward to the refreshing flavors of stone fruits. They perk up the fruit bowl with their brilliant colors, and every bite is divinely sweet and juicy.
A couple of weeks ago I went to the market on a hunt for fresh, ripe peaches with the hope they would also be sweet. Often, the first-of-the-season fruits tend to be a bit tart–and they were–so tart they even made my mouth pucker. On this week’s shopping trip I was thrilled to discover bins of beautiful yellow peaches with a gorgeous rosy glow. I bought some for my cooking class and had the pleasure of hearing the peaches were delicious and the dessert was a smashing success.
This is a dessert I devised especially because it contained no sweeteners of any sort. The sweetness comes only from dates. It’s also gluten-free. Anyone wanting to avoid sugar or suffering from gluten intolerance will find this an ideal dessert because there’s no sacrifice–really–none at all because it’s decadently sweet and chocolaty rich without the offending ingredients. If allergies are a problem, just leave out the walnuts, and you’ll still have a fabulous dessert.
Easy as pie–that’s how I think of this recipe, and I think you’ll agree. You can also make it a day in advance by brushing the exposed peach flesh lightly with lemon juice to prevent discoloring.
The only tools you’ll need are a food processor and a hand-crank nut mill to grind the walnuts into a coarse meal. I’m pretty sure everyone knows what a food processor looks like, but I often encounter puzzled looks when I mention nut mill. If you don’t have one, you can use other tools, like a hammer, food chopper, rolling pin, or mini blender, to grind the walnuts into a coarse meal. The nut mill is the item in the center of the photo and has a black cover and black handle on the end of the hand-crank. It’s a good old-fashioned low-tech tool, but turns out perfectly ground nuts I often use as garnish or to add a little texture to a recipe.
And don’t skimp on the garnish! Those little finishing touches are what dazzle the eyes and ramp up the temptation meter. A few perky sprigs of fresh mint and some scattered nuts on the dish do the deed.
Well, here they are–fresh, sun-ripened peaches stuffed with indulgent chocolate all ready for dessert. They look so irresistible, chocolate fans will snap up these gorgeous treats in a flash. The best part is that you won’t need to use the oven or stovetop to prepare this hot-weather dessert–it’s deliciously raw and can be assembled within minutes. And it doesn’t hurt that they look so tantalizing.
CHOCOLATE STUFFED PEACHES
Yield: 4 servings
6 fresh peaches
1 cup firmly packed dates, cut in half
2 to 3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons raw cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely ground in a hand-crank nutmill
12 golden raisins, for garnish
3 to 5 fresh mint leaves, for garnish
1. Cut the peaches in half, discard the pits, and set aside.
2. Put the dates into a food processor and pulse chop a few times. With the machine running, slowly add 2 tablespoons of the water and process until well mixed but still very slightly chunky, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Add all or part of the remaining tablespoon of water if needed to moisten the date mixture.
3. Add the cacao and almond extract to the processor and process briefly until completely incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and stir in 3 to 4 tablespoons of the ground walnuts and mix well. Put the remaining ground walnuts into a separate small bowl.
4. Using your hands, form the cacao mixture into twelve 1-inch balls. Press a ball into each of the peach halves. Holding the peach carefully, invert it and dip the top of each cacao ball into the ground walnuts to coat the top of the ball. Arrange the peach halves on an attractive serving platter.
5. For the finishing touch, poke a golden raisin into the center of each cacao ball. Sprinkle any remaining nuts around the platter and garnish with the mint leaves.