I’ve never liked canned fruit and didn’t understand why my grandparents served it with so much ceremony. They loved they’re fruit cocktail but it was never a good dessert day for us. It wasn’t until years later that I realized canned fruit was something of a delicacy where the punishing tropical climate could make fresh fruit hard to hold on to, passing from ripe to way too ripe before your eyes. Away from the central A/C of Florida, I appreciate that now – especially with surface-of-the-sun conditions in my own kitchen during the summer now.
I was working on a recipe for Chilean mote con huesillos, a cool off summer drink made from dried peaches poached in burnt sugar syrup for Devour and considered using the fresh fruit popping up in the market. Since huesillos are dried by definition, it didn’t seem right to make that change. When I came across this recipe for huevos falsos, a nursery dessert of poached pears set over chantilly cream in Mirtha Umaña-Murray book, Three Generations of Chilean Cuisine, I decided I didn’t have to decide. I had the mote con huesillos on hand for the first heat wave of the summer and was poaching peaches when it cooled off just enough so I could stand being in my kitchen again.
The original recipe called for canned peaches but by poaching them I could make it as sweet as I wanted and infuse the peaches with any variety of fresh herbs, honey or wine I wanted. The result wasn’t too different than the syrup soaked peaches and cream I remembered growing up – bright gold but drizzled in pink, firm but quick to break apart, sweet but fragrant, theirs but mine.
Huevos Falsos/Poached Peaches with Chantilly Cream
Adapted from Three Generations of Chilean Cuisine by Mirtha Umaña-Murray. The original recipe was equal parts whipped cream and meringue. I didn’t want the meringue to overwhelm the sweetness of the peaches so I opted for a simple whipped cream. I’m sure I’ll be making this a lot this summer with grilled and poached peaches, apricots or nectarines and trying variations on the syrup with wine or honey.
3-4 large ripe but still firm peaches, halved and pitted
1/2 cup sugar
3-5 sprigs rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled*
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Combine sugar and 2 cups of water in a wide-bottomed saucepan. Over medium heat, stir until the sugar has dissolved and bring to a simmer. Add peach halves, rosemary and thyme. Keep at a gentle simmer until tender, turning once, about 3 minutes on each side.
Remove peaches from the syrup with a slotted spoon. When cool enough to handle but still warm, remove peel (the skin will have wrinkled slightly and should pull away easily). Continue to simmer syrup with the herbs until it reaches desired consistency or is reduced by half. Strain the syrup and discard the herbs. Chill peaches and syrup until ready to use.
Combine heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl. Using an electic mixer or beater, whip cream until soft peaks form.
Scoop out the cream and top with a poached peach. Add syrup to taste.