peach melba popsicles

When I moved to New York City 16 years ago I am pretty sure that on some level I believed if I went far enough above 14th Street with money I did not have, I’d reenter some gauzy version of New York from the past, you know, stuffy restaurants with tufted leather banquettes, paintings in gilded frames, black and white tiled floors and stories about when Sinatra was a regular. Places where mutton chops, Lobster Newburg, Baked Alaska and things in champagne cream sauce never went off the menu. It’s not entirely clear to me why I thought I was moving to 1950 but needless to say, in the actual New York City I moved to, my first years were filled with the typical stuff, a walkup apartment in an illegal sublet, a terrible job, a lot of wine, virtually no hangovers (because: youth) and a lot of five-dumplings-for-a-dollar and $ 1.50 slices at 1 a.m.

what you'll need, plus some sugar and water

I still love those old-fashioned places, though, and I have yet to find peach melba on a menu. It’s too bad; I realize it sounds dreadful, like something an ancient aunt named Melba would eat or worse, something someone snuck melba toast into (fair enough, as they’re named after the same person), thinking we wouldn’t notice, but as it’s in fact a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a poached peach half and a cascade of tart raspberry sauce, it’s probably the most August dessert, ever. Escoffier created the dessert in 1892 for a dinner party to honor the opera singer Nellie Melba, who was performing in Covent Garden. Wikipedia says that an ice sculpture of a swan, which had been featured in the opera, carried peaches that rested on a bowl of vanilla ice cream topped with spun sugar but was later replaced with raspberry purée.

overripe peaches are perfect here
blending the berries

I’m sorry if you were hoping for ice swans today; I hope ice popsicles will suffice. A 50/50 marbling of fresh peaches (although frozen will work fine), vanilla ice cream and fresh raspberry sauce that together is like the highest calling of a creamsicle, each bite a different intersection of sweet, sour and creamy, no two tastes or popsicles exactly alike. Realistically, this will lead to needing more, so I trust you’ll plan accordingly.

marble it!
peach melba popsicles
peach melba popsicles


One year ago: Takeout-Style Sesame Noodles with Cucumber
Two years ago: Cold Noodles with Miso Lime and Ginger
Three years ago: Burst Tomato Galette with Corn and Zucchini
Four years ago: Charred Pepper Steak Sauce
Five years ago: Sugar Plum Crepes with Ricotta and Honey
Six years ago: Everyday Chocolate Cake
Seven years ago: Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad
Eight years ago: Napa Cabbage Salad with Buttermilk Dressing and Key Lime Meltaways
Nine years ago: Quick Zucchini Saute

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Miso Black Sesame Caramel Corn
1.5 Years Ago: Chocolate Oat Crumble
2.5 Years Ago: Chocolate Hazelnut Linzer Hearts
3.5 Years Ago: Egg Salad with Pickled Celery and Coarse Dijon
4.5 Years Ago: Cheddar Beer and Mustard Pull-Apart Bread

Peach Melba Popsicles

I used these molds, which hold about 1/3 cup liquid each. You can use either fresh or frozen peaches and berries here. For the peaches, if yours are a little overripe/soft, you can probably get away without cooking them and just puree them. The same goes for frozen peaches, which will no longer be firm once defrosted. The cooking is just to ensure a smoother puree. Re, the simple syrup you’ll make with sugar and water: I learned this from Fany Gerson’s excellent Paletas book, which is that it freezes to a better texture than just sugar will so I always use it.
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup whole raspberries
  • 2 cups peeled chopped peaches in small/medium chunks
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups vanilla ice cream, frozen yogurt or non-dairy vanilla ice cream of your choice, slightly softened (think: soft-serve consistency)
Combine sugar and water in a small-medium saucepan (intentionally larger than it requires) and bring to a simmer; stir until sugar dissolves. Pour 1/4 cup syrup (just eyeball it — it’s 1/3 of mixture) over raspberries in a bowl. Add peach chunks to remaining syrup in saucepan and bring back to a simmer, cook for 1 to 2 minute, until they soften. Let both raspberries and peaches cool in syrup. The raspberries will quickly but you can hasten the peaches along by setting them in a larger bowl of ice water for 10 to 15 minutes. In a blender or food processor, puree peaches and their syrup first, then scrape into a measuring cup with a spout and stir in almond extract, if using, then puree raspberries and place in a smaller spouted cup. (The raspberry color would muddle the peach puree much more than vice-versa, hence blending peaches first.)

Pour a tiny splash of raspberry (you’ll only want to use half of your total sauce) in the bottom of each popsicle mold or small glass that you’re using a as mold (I like champagne flutes, for this and really everything), following by a larger splash of peaches (again, using about half the puree) and dolloping in a little softened ice cream. Repeat with remaining raspberry, peaches and ice cream. Use a skewer to lightly marble the mixtures together — I get the best swirls by swiping the skewer right along the inside of each mold. Freeze popsicles according to manufacturer’s instructions.


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