Caramelized peaches with fresh figs and pine nuts
This recipe, although quick to prepare, is more sophisticated than it looks. What makes it really special is that the peaches are caramelized — coated with sugar and cooked to a golden brown — before being combined with the raw figs. The flavor of the two together is somewhere in the vicinity of sublime.
Be sure to choose freestone peaches — otherwise they will be hard to separate from their pits and won’t keep their lovely form. And the figs need to be ripe but firm.
There are two versions of this dessert — with or without a base of smooth and creamy fromage blanc. This is a smooth and creamy fresh cheese that is ubiquitous in France but hard to find elsewhere. The closest non-French equivalent I know of is Greek yogurt, which makes a fine substitute.
2 freestone peaches
2 tbsp. sugar
4 small or 2 large figs
2 tbsp. pine nuts
1 cup fromage blanc or Greek yogurt (optional)
mint for garnish
Peel the peaches. The easiest way is to plunge them into boiling water for one minute. Allow to cool and slip the skins off. Alternatively, you can peel the peaches with a knife.
Cut the peeled peaches in half and remove the stones. Divide the halves in two lengthwise and then again crosswise, to make 8 pieces per peach. Place in a bowl.
Sprinkle the sugar over the peaches and stir gently to cover all sides.
Place a flat frying pan over high heat for one minute. Add the peach pieces and allow to caramelize, turning them carefully as you go along to brown all sides. This goes very quickly, so you need to be careful not to let the peaches burn. You are aiming for a golden brown color. As they get ready, remove immediately into a clean bowl.
Rinse the figs, slice off the stems and cut into quarters or eighths (depending on the size of the figs — you are aiming for bite-sized pieces).
Preheat the oven to medium-hot (gas mark 6, 400 F, 200 C). Place the pine nuts in a pie tin and roast until they start to brown. This again goes very quickly. Check after 2 minutes and give them a shake. Roast for about 2 minutes more. Remove from oven.
Assemble the dessert just before serving.
If using fromage blanc or Greek yogurt, scoop it into individual bowls. Then pile on the peach and fig pieces, sprinkle with pine nuts and add a mint sprig to each for garnish.