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Pesche Con Crema (Peaches with Cream)

For a fanciful holiday dessert that's guaranteed to impress, try these beautiful but easy-to-make peach-shaped cakes from Rosetta Costantino's "My Calabria" cookbook.

  • Yield: Makes 24 "peaches"
Pesche Con Crema (Peaches with Cream)

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, December 2010

Ingredients

For the Pastry Cream

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Zest of 1 lemon, removed in large strips with a vegetable peeler
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

For the Dough

  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon

For Assembling Peaches

  • 1/2 cup light rum or 6 tablespoons Italian maraschino liqueur plus 2 tablespoons peach schnapps
  • Red and yellow food coloring
  • 1 cup sugar, or more as needed for coating
  • Fresh peach leaves or decorative sugar or chocolate leaves

Directions

  1. Make the pastry cream: In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring milk and lemon zest to a simmer over medium heat. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale yellow; add flour and whisk until well combined.

  2. Remove lemon zest from milk and discard; slowly whisk hot milk into egg mixture. Return mixture to saucepan and place over medium heat; cook, stirring constantly, until cream thickens and begins to boil.

  3. Transfer pastry cream to a large bowl; cover with plastic wrap, pressing down on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool completely.

  4. Make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder. Whisk eggs in another large bowl. Add sugar and whisk to combine. Whisk in milk, butter, and lemon zest until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture, mixing with a fork, until dough is smooth and stiff. Let dough rest for 5 minutes.

  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with nonstick baking mats; set aside.

  6. Using a lightly mounded tablespoon of dough, roll the dough firmly between your palms to make a smooth round ball, about the size of a walnut. Repeat process, taking care to make sure all the balls are fairly uniform in size. Place balls on prepared baking sheets spacing about 1 inch apart; you should be able to fit 24 balls on each baking sheet. Flatten tops slightly with your fingertips.

  7. Transfer to oven and bake until bottoms are lightly browned, about 15 minutes; tops will remain pale. Transfer to a rack and let cool slightly.

  8. Assemble the peaches: While the cookies are still warm, use a small, sharp knife to cut a circle about the size of a quarter on the bottom (flat) side of each cookie, taking care not to crack the edges. Use the tip of the knife to scrape out enough crumbs to make hollow and hold about 1 teaspoon pastry cream. Set cookies aside.

  9. Place rum or maraschino liqueur and schnapps in a small bowl. Add enough red and yellow food coloring to create your desired shade of peach; set aside. Fill a shallow bowl with sugar; set aside.

  10. Fill each hollowed-out cookie with 1 teaspoon filling. Sandwich two cookies together so that the filling comes just to the edge, taking care not to crack or break. Using a pastry brush, brush "peach" with colored liquor and roll in sugar to coat. Transfer to a large airtight container and repeat process with remaining cookies, liqueur, and sugar. Cover container and transfer to refrigerator; let chill overnight.

  11. Just before serving, pierce each "peach" with a toothpick where the two cookies come together and insert the stem of a peach leaf. Alternatively, you can garnish cookies with decorative or chocolate leaves.

Reviews (7)

  • lovescookingtoo 9 Dec, 2011

    My Grandma used to make this every Christmas. In the cream she’ll mix the crumbs from the inside of the cookies and ground walnuts. For the sugar coating instead of alcohol (for more kid’s friendly recipe) she used basic sugar syrup and she colored one side yellow the other red/peach before coating them with sugar. For the leaves you can use mint leaves. I am making this this year for Christmas. Great recipe and so easy to make!

  • terribearblue 16 Feb, 2011

    You can make chocolate leaves very easily. Just stop by your local florist and ask for "Salal" leaves or "Lemon Balm" leaves. They are thick and glossy and very easy to work with. Paint melted dipping chocolate (like the kind you use to dip strawberries in that hardens) onto the back of the individual leaves. Let them set up on parchment paper for about 30 minutes. Peel the real leaves away and you have beautiful chocolate leaves.

  • pesche 29 Dec, 2010

    I couldn't find peach leaves. Where can I buy chocolate leaves for decorating? Any idea?

  • tnp2010 29 Dec, 2010

    I made these for two Christmas celebrations. They were beautiful. I added vanilla extract to the cream and won't next year. A lemony taste would have been better. I am brain storming ideas to flavor the cookie a little more. Maybe add finely chopped dried peach or crushed lemon drop candies? Any ideas?

  • HealthyChocolate 23 Dec, 2010

    Yumm! My guess is that rum or almond flavoring, syrup or extract will work well, too. Will be trying them all tomorrow, Christmas Eve. Cheers!

  • starofcali 23 Dec, 2010

    I made these and used Peach nectar juice, I diluted it with water and it worked out perfectly.

  • JoWilloughby 22 Dec, 2010

    what if you don't drink, what to use with the sugar coating?

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