Despite the fact that everything is supposed to be bigger in Texas, Texas-grown peaches are kind of small. I would argue, however, that their flavor is very big. Not many other fruits compare to a perfectly ripe peach. I mentioned the other day that I’d been reading Farmers' Market Desserts, and most of the recipes in that book include suggestions for alternate fruits. There’s a dessert called grilled fig sundaes with balsamic fudge, and I took note of the suggestion to use peaches or plums instead when in season as I had just received some peaches from my CSA. Whichever type of fruit is used, each piece is cut in half and skewered onto a rosemary sprig and grilled. The fruit skewers only remain on the grill long enough to soften and brown in spots and take on some smokiness. And, the fruit is only one part of this dessert. There’s also ice cream which is a natural with warm fruit, and then there’s the sauce. This is no old-fashioned, ice cream parlor kind of sauce. It’s a tangy, sweet reduction of red wine, balsamic vinegar, and sugar, and it makes this a sundae with grown-up flavor.
I’m sure both figs and plums would work very well for grilling. The peaches I used were nicely ripe which means they were a little tender and had to be pierced and skewered carefully. The pieces of fruit didn’t stay in place very well on the rosemary sprigs. They tended to flip around the stem and would have been difficult to turn on the grill. To fix that issue, I also pushed a wooden skewer through the fruit behind each rosemary sprig. With two skewers in place, the fruit stayed put and was easy to turn. To start, you should soak your skewers in water so they won’t burn on the grill even though any rosemary leaves left on the ends will catch the flame regardless. Meanwhile, you can begin the sauce. Good balsamic vinegar, red wine, and sugar, and the amount of sugar depends on whether you’re using a dry wine or a sweet, dessert wine, were stirred together in a saucepan. Over a bare simmer, that mixture was left to reduce by half which took about 15 minutes. It thickened as it cooled. Then, the fruit was brushed with olive oil, seasoned, and grilled for a few minutes per side, and the timing will depend on how hot your grill is. The goal is to just allow the fruit to soften and begin to brown. I served the grilled fruit and sauce with vanilla gelato, and I always follow the recipe from Demolition Desserts. It includes only two eggs and is made with more milk than cream making it slightly lighter than other vanilla ice cream recipes I sometimes use.
Savory flavors from the grill smoke and rosemary challenged the sweetness of the peaches and gelato in a delicious way. Likewise, the sauce was a mix of sweet and tart, rather than just sweet, which nudged the taste of the gelato in the direction of cheesecake. Plain, ripe, summer peaches are a pleasure, but if you’d like to dress up a few of them for dessert, I highly recommend this sundae.