Baby, it’s hot outside! Summer is in full swing and when the heat rises, you need some refreshing treats to cool you down. What better way to do so but with a few Italian-inspired creations.
The first treat, Roasted Peach Winesicles, is a riff on one of my truly favorite Italian ‘desserts’ – peaches in red wine. In our Italian family, we grew up with our relatives forever tossing peaches in their red wine on a hot summer’s eve. No need for fancy desserts in our family – just bring along the peaches. There was always wine around. I fondly remember our grandfather sitting under his pergola on a summer’s eve – slicing fresh peaches with his pocket knife, letting them slowly slide from the knife to his wine glass while we sat mesmerized watching. Occasionally, he would offer us a wine-dipped peach in exchange for a solemn promise to not tell our mother. (We never did.) So, with peaches in season and a recent flurry of boozy popsicle recipes floating on the blogs, I thought I’d give my favorite dessert a try as a winesicle. I simply tossed a few peaches in a bit of lemon juice and sugar. Roasted them until soft and juicy. Tossed 2 of them in a blender. Mixed in some red wine. Done and out of the kitchen in no time. And oh so refreshing after a long day in the sun.
The second treat is perfect for when it is so hot that you feel like sticking your head in the refrigerator to cool off. Try this easy Sicilian treat instead, watermelon pudding (or ‘Gelo d’Anguria). I first had this refreshing treat in bustling Palermo while sitting on a pier near the water – a much needed break from a day of exploring the flea markets near the sea – and it was love at first bite. The blend of the chocolate or pistachios (or both) with the watermelon pudding is exquisite. Try whipping up some fresh cream to dollop on top. Use little mini chocolate chips and toss them in to resemble seeds if your heart desires. This summery recipe is an impressive yet simple way to end a meal on a hot summer’s day.
And should you have any of that watermelon juice left over, just stir in some vodka and toss over ice. No need at all to stick your head in the fridge.
Enjoy the rest of summer! Buon estate!
Gelo d’Anguria (Watermelon Pudding)
About 4 cups of watermelon juice (I used a 5 pound watermelon)
½ cup cornstarch
½ cup sugar (or more to taste)
Dark chocolate, roughly chopped
Pistachios, roughly chopped
Chop up the watermelon, remove any seeds and toss it into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
Place the cornstarch in a medium pot. Add in some of the watermelon juice (about 1 cup) and stir until smooth and the cornstarch has dissolved completely. Add in the rest of the juice and stir. Bring to a slow simmer over medium low heat. Add in the sugar. Taste. (I like my desserts less sweet. Add up to ½ cup more sugar if you desire.)
Cook for about 10 minutes, allowing the mixture to thicken. Continue to stir. When the mixture coats the back of the spoon, remove from heat. Pour into bowls, glasses, ramekins of your choice. Place in the refrigerator and chill until set, approximately 4 hours.
Sprinkle with the dark chocolate and pistachios. Serve with freshly whipped cream if you desire. Enjoy!
Roasted Peach Winesicles
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup dry red wine
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the peaches in half and remove the pits. Place the peaches in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with the juice of the lemon. Add about 1 teaspoon sugar and toss again.
Arrange the peaches, cut side up, in a baking dish or on a sheet tray. Place in oven and roast until the peaches are tender, 25-30 minutes. Check occasionally. Remove from oven. Let cool.
Place 4 peach halves in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Add in the red wine and stir until incorporated. Dice the remaining 2 peach halves, discarding the skin.
Place a bit of the diced peaches in the bottom of each of the popsicle molds. Carefully pour in the wine/peach mixture. Freeze for approximately 1 hour. Add in the sticks and freeze overnight.
Joe and Michele Becci are a brother and sister team who love all things Italian. Together, from opposite coasts, they co-author the blog OurItalianTable.com.