Peaches Cardinal is my absolute favourite classic French peach dessert…certainly, the prep is simple enough but it has remained the domain of the best restaurants because it has to be plated at the very last second. The next important thing to remember is that peaches cannot be perfectly poached and their skins slipped off like a tomato unless they are perfectly ripe. There in lies the greatest difficulty of this divine dessert.
for 8 serves you will need the following
full quantity raspberry coulis
8 x brandy snap baskets
8 x 90 mm sponge disks….Pam Field’s Sponge
8 x vanilla poached peaches…recipe below
hard crack toffee in a microwave safe jug + a chop stick
if you are making the toffee crowns in advance you’ll need….
1 x 10L bucket with and airtight lid
6 x 50g sachets of silica gel
400g farm pouring cream
1 vanilla pod split and scraped..seeds only
75g caster sugar
Whip the ingredients until you have medium whip….put into an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to plate.
Put a couple of the silica gel sachets in the bottom of your bucket. Remember that spun toffee is extremely fragile…so, making a few extra is good advice. Get your toffee molten in the microwave on medium…do it a couple of minutes at a time, making the time shorter as the toffee starts to melt and only melt about one third of the toffee.
Use the chopstick to spin the toffee bundles and separate them with sheets of Freezer-go-Between. Return the toffee continuously to the microwave to keep it molten and useable. Cover the last bundle and carefully place the remaining silica gel sachets in the bucket and seal. Store in a very safe place.
It will be no surprise to a good cook to understand that poaching peaches requires perfectly ripe peaches. Remove the skins from the peaches like you would a tomato, by dropping them into boiling water just long enough to loosen the skin and then plunging them into ice water to arrest the cooking. Unless they are perfectly ripe removing the skins spoils the look. For 8-10 peaches a heavy sugar syrup 2L sugar and 1L water, 3-4 vanilla beans split and scraped. Bring the sugar, water and vanilla beans to the boil scraping the sugar from the bottom of the saucepan. Turn the heat down to the lowest possible point add the peaches and hold them under the syrup with a disk of baking paper and cook them watching them carefully until the flesh is translucent – usually 5-10 minutes depending on how ripe they are. If you have induction it is brilliant for low temperature cooking.
Put a spoonful of cream Chantilly in the centre of each plate and quickly put the remaining cream into a serving bowl. Secure a basket in the cream and place a disk of sponge in the centre of the basket. Put a drained peach on top and when you have all of the peaches in place, blanket the peach with the raspberry coulis. Top with a bundle of spun toffee and serve immediately.
The syrup makes a good sorbet…so, freeze until you have an option to use it.