Baked peaches stuffed with amaretti (almond cookies) and honey for a healthy summer dessert, based on a simple Italian recipe.
Healthy Baked Peaches
Luckily in summer, there is no shortage of inspiration for fruity desserts. In the garden, the French lavender is out in full bloom and, although slightly extra hairy due to our many heatwaves, our raspberries are poking out shyly to say bonjour behind the leaves.
With the abundance of juicy peaches and nectarines at our local markets, life is a peach. Much like our baked apricots, these peaches are also reduced in sugar using honey but stuffed with a delicious almond and raspberry filling. There's no need to add any butter to bake them.
Recipe for Italian Baked Peaches
I first found inspiration for this recipe from an Italian cookbook given to me by my good friend, Valérie many years ago, 'Al Dente' by Maria Chiara Martinelli. Translated into French, recipes are indeed guaranteed with 'tous les secrets de la vraie cuisine italienne' (all the secrets of real Italian cuisine).
Maria Martinelli's original recipe for Pesche Ripiene (baked peaches or pêches fourrées) included a dusting of cocoa powder, sugar, a yolk and 100g of amaretti.
Instead I used half quantity of honey for the sugar and added raspberries to replace some of the amaretti - only because it was the only way I could get my youngest daughter, Lucie, to eat them this way (she calls them 'hairy')!
Since then, this new recipe just stuck with our family and our sticky baked peaches had a little lavender, adding a French touch.
Can I Bake with Hard Peaches?
Although it's possible to bake with hard peaches that are not yet ripe, they will definitely lack flavour. If yours are rock hard, first wait a few days for the peaches to ripen at room temperature.
Baked peaches are at their best when peaches are still firm to ripe but not hard.
Baked Peaches - my French-Italian Recipe
This recipe is so simple and straightforward. First choose good quality peaches that are not bruised plus quite firm to ripe. Both white or yellow peaches are just as good - as are nectarines.
Wash carefully and dry with a kitchen towel.
How to Prepare Peaches for Baking
To halve peaches, cut them horizontally half way around from the top where the stem would be.
Once cut in half around the stone, twist the peach around (not pressing too hard to bruise) to separate easily.
Cutting this way and twisting makes it easy to remove the stone from a cling peach.
Remove the peach stones and scoop out a little more flesh so that there is more room in the centre to fill. Lay them cut centre side up in a non-stick roasting tin.
Do you Peel a Peach Before Baking?
There's no need to peel the peaches. If you prefer yours without the skin, leave them on at this stage. Read to the end and you'll discover how easy it is to peel them off.
Crush the Amaretti biscuits (or macarons) in a mortar & pestle. Alternatively, place them in a bag and bash them about with a rolling pin. This is particularly effective if you're needing to get some frustration out of the system!
Can't find Amaretti cookies? No worries. Use the same weight of ground almonds (almond flour).
Mix the honey, crushed Amaretti (or ground almonds) and raspberries then add an egg yolk. If using, add lavender from one flower (or ¼ teaspoon dried).
Fill each cavity with a couple of spoons of the filling.
How Long do Peaches Go in Oven?
Peach halves are best baked for about 25 minutes until slightly bubbling around the stuffing. They will be softened when baked but should not be mushy. The best temperature is 200°C (400°F) or 180°C for fan ovens.
Peaches that are simply sliced will take much less so it's worth baking for more than 20 minutes to appreciate them at their best.
Leave the baked peaches to cool at room temperature then transfer to the fridge to chill. This is when the skin does its magic and any extra juices accumulate in the tin.
Once baked, peaches are so easy to peel, although they are just as good with skins left on. If you prefer peeling them, the outer surface maintains its glorious colour of the peach skin.
How to Serve Baked Peaches
The result is a baked peach that could be served in a Parisian restaurant. Add the little juice to serve. Best served on their own chilled or at room temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- 4 peaches between firm and ripe
- 50 g (2oz/ about 8-10) Amaretti biscuits crushed (see NOTES below)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- a few raspberries
- 1 egg yolk organic
- 1 tablespoon sugar optional
- ¼ tsp (or from one flower) dried lavender flowers optional
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/gas 6. Wash, halve and stone the peaches. Split them using a sharp knife half way below the top then twist with both hands to release them from the stone.
- Crush the Amaretti biscuits (or macarons) – either in a mortar & pestle or place them in a bag and crush with a rolling pin. Otherwise use powdered/ground almonds.
- Scoop out a bit of peach pulp to make slightly bigger cavities to stuff.
- Add the egg yolk, honey, raspberries, lavender and the left-over peach pulp and combine together. Fill the peaches with the mixture and place in a non-stick ovenproof dish (otherwise butter an ovenproof dish).
- If using, sprinkle with the sugar (we prefer without but add if you prefer a little sweeter) and bake for 25 minutes.Set aside to cool then chill in the fridge until needed. Skins will be easy to peel off although just as good unpeeled.
This post was first published September 6, 2011 but is now being completely updated, including with new images.