Back in our “farming years,” we’d ride our old Gilera motorcycle to nearby Bettona for peach-picking in July. I’d rather hoe corn, muck the pig stalls or even help on the haying than pick peaches. Hot, sweaty and itchy work. But what peaches! And you’d forget about sweltering in the Bettona peach orchards when savoring a bowl of pesche sciroppate in front of the fire on a cold January night.
Besides putting up about 50 qts of peaches, we’d also make jams – and later when our three children came along, over a hundred small bottles of succo di pesche for school day snacks. And sometimes, those fruit juices were of mixed fruits: succo di pera e pesca or even succo di pera, pesca e prugne… Che bonta’!
Every time I make peach tiramisu, I remember those Bettona peach days.
It’s the soaking of crispy savoiardi (lady fingers) in espresso that gave the name tiramisu’ (“pick me up”) to the tasty pudding-like dessert which debuted in Italy in the late 50’s – or so. “Culinary legend” places its origins in northern Italy in Friuli Venezia Giulia where Signora Norma, in her late 90’s, claimed to have created it in her husband’s Udine restaurant in the late 50’s. The war goes on. A Veneto restaurant claims its origins in the late 70’s. Tiramisu’ entices diners the world over now and variations on the theme are endless…
Such as the summertime versions with fresh fruit: enticing palate pleasers.
In early June, use strawberries or strawberries and kiwi fruit.
But now’s the time for peach tiramisu’:
Ingredients (for about 8):
8 to 10 very ripe peaches
juice of 2 lemons
2 c. or so of fruit juice (pear juice or apricot juice preferred.. but experiment!)
bar of dark chocolate
1 large package cripsy lady fingers (but Graham crackers work well, too!)
sugar, q. b. (“quanto basta”, ie, as much as you need)
ricotta / about 1 c and use sheep’s milk ricotta if you can (richer)
3/4 c mascarpone (approximately)
4 or 5 eggs
optional 1/2 c coconut
Peel and slice peaches. Cover with lemon juice and fruit juice, soaking overnight in the refrigerator (or let set in the juices for a few hours before preparing the tiramisu’).
Mix together ricotta and mascarpone with wooden spoon (if mixing mascarpone with an a beater, it liquefies). Separate yolks from whites. Whip egg whites until stiff and then whip yolks. Mix both together and then add to cream mixture. Add sugar to taste, q. b.
Dip cookies into peach/juice mixture until soft. Cover bottom of glass oval dish – about 9 – 12’ long – with cookies. Spoon cream mixture over the softened cookies, then spread peaches on top. Add chopped chocolate (and coconut if you wish). Repeat with soaked cookies, then cream, then peaches, then chocolate (coconut?). Continue until all ingredients are used. Refrigerate for about 4 hours (or put in freezer for about 20 mins).
This can be made in advance and frozen.
Note: If making for a children’s party you may add sliced bananas or M & M’s between the layers. And why not guide children in making this tasty summertime dessert?
And have another name for this goodness: after all, it’s missing the “pick – you-up” coffee!