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Eric Akis: This summer dessert treat isn't just peachy, it's delicious

Wedges of fresh B.C. peaches are warmed in a spiced butter and sugar mixture until a caramel–like sauce forms, then served on ice cream.
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Warm, saucy wedges of peaches served with fine local ice cream is an unbeatable summertime dessert. ERIC AKIS

I have a peachy summer dessert for you to try that’s quite divine, but easy to make. 

It’s a classic way of serving fresh fruit warm by heating it in a melted butter/sugar mixture.

Beyond butter and sugar, the wedges of peach used in my recipe were also accented with lemon juice and spices — cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. The lemon juice adds a balancing tanginess to the peaches and helps to preserve the fruit’s orange colour. The spices further enhance the warm and appealing aroma and taste of this simple dessert.

When ready, a caramel-like sauce forms around the peaches, making them the perfect topping for dishes filled with vanilla ice cream, how I served them. The fine local ice cream I used was from 49 Below Craft Ice Cream. Their website lists Island food stores that sell it, including their own retail outlet, 2575 Cadboro Rd., Oak Bay.

I used widely available freestone peaches in my recipe. They have flesh that does not cling tightly to the pit, hence their name. That quality makes them easier to pit and neatly slice into wedges, making them perfect for this style of dessert.

In my recipe I give you the option to use nectarines, instead of peaches. A nectarine is simply a variety of peach that has a smooth skin.

When purchasing peaches and nectarines, opt for vibrantly coloured, bruise-free, aromatic fruit that feels heavy for its size and gives slightly when pressed, a sign it’s ripe.

If you bought slightly under-ripe peaches or nectarines, they should ripen if left out – don’t stack them - at room temperature a few days, near a sunny window.

If you want speed up the ripening process, though, place the peaches or nectarines in a single layer in a sealed paper bag a day or two, where the ethylene gas they release will be trapped and encourage ripening. That will occur even faster, if you set another ethylene gas releasing fruit in the bag with them, such as an apple or banana.

Warm Summer Peaches on Ice Cream

Wedges of fresh B.C. peaches, warmed in a spiced butter/sugar mixture until a caramel–like sauce forms around them, served on ice cream.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: six minutes

Makes: four servings

3 to 4 cups vanilla ice cream, or to taste

4 medium, ripe, freestone peaches (see Eric’s options)

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground ginger

3 Tbsp butter

3 Tbsp brown sugar

• mint sprigs, for garnish (optional)

Scoop and divide the ice cream between four serving bowls. Set the bowls in the freezer.

Cut each peach in half, carefully pull them apart and remove the pits. Slice the pitted half peaches into 1/2-inch thick wedges and set in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and gently toss to coat the peaches with those ingredients.

Place butter and sugar in a large, 10-inch or so wide skillet set over medium, medium-high heat. Heat and stir one minute, or until sugar melts. Add the peach wedges and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are hot and a caramel-like sauce forms around them, about five minutes.

Let peaches stand a few minutes, to cool slightly, and then spoon over the ice cream. Garnish with mint sprigs, if using, and serve.

Eric’s options: Nectarines could replace the peaches in this recipe.

eakis@timescolonist.com

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.