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Grilled Peach Splits

Each of these elements can be made in advance, if you wish to plan ahead for a weekend of peach sundaes. Even the whipped cream, which is thanks to the genius of Nancy Silverton (read more at the links as to how it stays stable). You can skip the sugar in the whipped cream if you’d like more of a tangy grown-up contrast between that and the ice cream and peaches. You could probably skip the whipped cream altogether, but where is the fun in that? Even the peaches, once grilled, can be rewarmed in an oven. If you don’t have a grill, you can roast the peaches at 375°F for 30 to 35 minutes, face-down in a well-buttered dish, or less, if you’d like them semi-firm. We used store-bought ice cream, but this homemade vanilla, buttermilk or even fennel ice cream would be wonderful here.

This serves 8 if each person gets a single peach half, 1/4 cup scoop of ice cream, a drizzle of caramel sauce, a handful of cookie crumbs and a dollop of whipped cream. You could also give each person two peach halves, as a nod to the massive nature of most banana splits. I doubt anyone would mind.

1/2 cup (65 grams) raw pecans
1 1/4 cups (155 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (40 grams) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons (25 grams) coarse sugar, such as turbinado or Sugar in the Raw; use granulated if you have neither
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (or you can use bourbon; I’ll never tell)

2/3 cup (135 grams) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (155 ml) heavy or whipping cream
1 tablespoon (15 ml) bourbon or whiskey or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon flaky salt or level 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Whipped cream
1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy or whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered granulated sugar (optional, or to taste)
2 tablespoons (30 grams) crème fraîche or sour cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Butter, for grill
4 large firm-ripe peaches (free stone, if you can find them, not that I ever do), halved and pitted
2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45 ml) maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar, or just cinnamon to sprinkle

To serve
1 pint (about 400 grams) vanilla ice cream

Make crumbs: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Spread the nuts out in one layer and bake them, stirring occasionally, until they are well browned, 10 to 13 minutes, tossing them around once or twice to ensure they toast evenly. Cool the nuts; you can hasten this along by putting them in a bowl in your freezer for a few minutes. Leave oven on and tray lined with parchment.

Place cooled pecans, flour, sugars, salt and baking powder in a food processor and blend until the nuts are as powdery as possible without turning to paste. Add melted butter and vanilla and pulse machine until large and small crumbs form. Spread them out on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes, then move the crumbs around for even browning, and bake them for another 4 to 5 minutes, until they are golden brown. Let cool completely on rack, then transfer to a jar. They can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for a week.

Make caramel: Place sugar in the bottom of a medium-sized heavy saucepan. Set over medium heat. In a few minutes, the sugar will begin to melt. Use a spoon or spatula to stir it as it melts, to ensure it does so evenly, breaking up any chunks as needed. Continue to stir continuously until the melted sugar takes on an amber color, which usually happens at about the same time the last sugar chunk melts. Remove from heat and carefully stir in cream, just a little drizzle at first (it will hiss and splatter) and then the rest. If your sugar re-solidifies, return the saucepan to the stove over medium-low and stir it until the sugar melts again. Let caramel sauce cool slightly before adding bourbon or vanilla and salt. Store caramel sauce in a glass container for up to 1 week in the fridge. Rewarm to loosen the caramel into a sauce consistency, as needed. If using it within a couple hours, you can leave it out.

Make whipped cream: Using a clean bowl and whisk (electric or a regular large one), whip cream and sugar, if using, until it holds soft peaks. Whisk in crème fraîche or sour cream, and vanilla. Keep chilled until needed. On day two, mine is still perfectly whipped. Theoretically, amazingly, it should stay whipped for a few days, using this recipe.

Grill peaches: Heat your grill to medium/medium-low and butter it generously. Brush peach halves with maple syrup and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or just cinnamon. Place cut side down on grill and grill them gently and slowly, between 10 and 20 minutes, until they take on nice grill marks and are mostly tender to the touch. Brush a little extra maple syrup on top when you’re done, if desired. If you’d like to grill these in advance, they can be warmed before serving in a lowish oven.

Assemble splits: Place a peach half, face up, in a shallow bowl. Top with ice cream, caramel, whipped cream and a handful of cookie crumbs. Don’t forget to share.

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