Classic French Peach Melba

A peach melba served on a wooden table

Susan Marie Andersson/Getty Images

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
277 Calories
8g Fat
51g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 277
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 4g 22%
Cholesterol 29mg 10%
Sodium 55mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 51g 19%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 46g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 12mg 59%
Calcium 97mg 7%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 287mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Dame Nellie Melba was the stage name of—the Melba part coming from her home city of Melbourne, Australia—Helen “Nellie” Porter, a singer famous in the late 19th and early 20th century. It was while performing at Covent Garden in London, that Nellie became acquainted with renowned French chef Escoffier known worldwide for his innovative, cooking and often considered the godfather of “haute cuisine.” He had also partnered with César Ritz and was head chef of the restaurants within the famous Ritz hotels of Paris and London.

Nellie Melba was a frequent visitor to Escoffier’s restaurants while in London in the late 1890s and early 1900s. It was at this time the Escoffier created the Peach Melba. 

This recipe for Peches Melba (Melba peaches) uses an often neglected and little-known cooking technique called white poaching to keep the peaches firm. When white poaching, the ingredients are brought to barely a simmer and then the whole pan is removed from the heat. The hot mixture stays in the pan for a time, gently cooking in its own heat as it cools. The result is perfectly cooked, and never mushy.

This is not a dish for keeping and not one to mess around with either. In this instance, the recipe should be kept to the authentic one produced by that master of Chefs Auguste Escoffier.

Chill sundae cups or ice cream dishes in the freezer ahead of making this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 6 ripe peaches, peeled and pitted

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar

  • 2 cups water

  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Sauce:

  • 1 (12-ounce) package frozen raspberries, unsweetened, thawed in a bowl

  • 1/3 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

  • 1 container vanilla ice cream

Steps to Make It

  1. Using a deep, wide skillet, heat 1 1/4 cups sugar and 2 cups water to boiling.

  2. After sugar dissolves, add peaches in a single layer. Reduce heat to just under simmering and poach, covered, for 5 minutes.

  3. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, gently turn all the peaches over, cover, and continue poaching for 3 minutes.

  4. Remove skillet from heat and allow peaches to sit in hot syrup for an additional 4 minutes.

  5. Stir in vanilla extract. Chill peaches in syrup for at least 1 hour.

Steps to Make the Sauce

  1. Push raspberries and juice from thawing, through a fine-mesh sieve, and then discard seeds and solids; set aside. Bring 1/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water to a boil for 2 minutes and remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and zest. Stir simple syrup (sugar mixture) into a seedless raspberry puree and chill for 30 minutes.

  2. Layer peaches and raspberries over ice cream in frosted dishes and serve.

  3. Enjoy.

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