As a child, I was a shrewd negotiator in the business of Barbie clothing. I used my persuasive (and most likely devious) tactics to build an enviable collection of outfits for my Barbie. While my Barbie had bins full of outfits for every occasion, my two younger sisters’ Barbies were dressed in hair scrunchies. While my Barbie impressed her dinner guests with multiple stunning outfit changes, my sisters’ Barbies wore tattered hand-me-downs. I’ll never live it down. In fact, my brother-in-law claims that one of the first things my sister ever told him about me involved a warning about engaging in trades.
Out of the entire Barbie clothes collection that my sisters and I bartered over, the hands-down favorite was the elegant Peaches N Cream gown; a full peach chiffon skirt with a shiny, pearlescent bodice and a tiny flower applique. If a life-sized version of that dress existed, I may have worn it for my wedding. And I’m not even particularly fond of the color peach or full chiffon skirts. We must have passed that dress back and forth a hundred times, always the prized gem of a trade.
Mattel recently put out a reproduction of the Peaches N Cream Barbie. I shrieked when I saw it at Target and almost bought it at first sight, but the $50 price tag was enough to dissuade me. Part of me wanted to wrap it up and give it to my sisters as a fun gag gift. Perhaps I could then convince them to trade it back to me in return for a handful of scrunchies.
As a result of this bit of personal history, it’s hard for me to think about peaches without thinking of cream. So when I nearly tripped over the bin of ripe summer peaches, which my grocery store so conveniently placed directly in the entranceway, lest anyone forget that it’s peach season, I knew exactly what I needed to make; my very own panna cotta incarnation of Peaches ‘n’ Cream. This dish is, quite simply, roasted summer peaches enveloped in lightly sweetened cream. Peaches ‘n’ Cream.
Removing the skin from the peaches and roasting them in the oven until they are extremely tender is key, so that your spoon will slip through the delicate peaches almost as easily as through the sweet cream. You can serve the panna cottas unmolded or serve them in their bowls. Puree some of the extra roasted peaches for a decorative and delicious coulis (pronouced koo-LEE). Add a bit of water and strain, if necessary, to achieve a smooth peach sauce.
Peaches and Cream Panna Cotta
- 3 Ripe Peaches
- 1/2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
- 1 1/4 cup Milk
- 1 cup Heavy Cream
- 1 packet Unflavored Gelatin Powder (about 2 1/4 tsp)
- 1 Vanilla Bean, split in half lengthwise, seeds scraped
- 1/4 cup Sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a paring knife to peel the peaches. Remove the pit and very thinly slice the peeled peaches. Place peach slices in a baking dish. Toss with the brown sugar. Place the baking dish in the oven and cook for about 30 minutes, until the peaches are very tender. The riper the peaches, the less time they’ll need to cook. Occasionally toss the peaches with a spoon as they cook. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, sprinkle the gelatin powder over 1/4 cup of the milk. Set aside to allow the gelatin to bloom.
In a saucepan, combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, vanilla bean seeds, and vanilla bean halves. Over medium/medium-low heat, gradually heat the mixture, whisking to dissolve the sugar and evenly disperse the vanilla bean seeds. Once the mixture begins to bubble around the edges and the sugar is fully dissolved, remove from heat. Remove the vanilla bean halves. Add the hot liquid to the gelatin. Whisk until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve. Set the mixture in an ice bath to begin cooling, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, arrange several peach slices on the bottom of 6 small bowls or ramekins. Pour some of the panna cotta mixture into each prepared dish. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours to set the panna cotta.
To unmold, dip the bottom of the dishes into warm water for a few seconds. Use a knife to loosen the edges. Invert over your serving dish.