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.
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.
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.
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
- 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)
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 as a 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.