Paonia peaches are some of the best in the country. It’s a bold statement I’m sure many southerners would rebut, but I stand by my opinion. There is nothing quite like a warm, ripe, juicy peach. The nectar gushes out of the delicate fuzzy skin with each bite making the experience almost sensual. We Coloradans wait an unbearable amount of time for these amazing fruits, due again to our short growing season and late springs. The wait, however may be why we relish the peaches so much when they finally arrive. When they do arrive the local chefs, myself included, attempt to use them in as many different ways as possible. From savory to sweet, salads and soup, jams and condiments, peaches turn up all over menus.
When the raw ingredient is so good to begin with it’s hard to make something bad, unless the chef tries too hard and masks the natural sweetness and acidity of the fruit. I always try to add the fewest amount of ingredients possible to compliment and accentuate the peach’s natural flavors. Some great combinations to try with peaches are basil, tomatoes, goat cheese, prosciutto and chilies. I love to add peaches to a classic panzanella salad of tomatoes, crusty bread and basil, or simply wrap the peaches in prosciutto for an American version of the Italian favorite, melon and prosciutto. I also enjoy them sliced on top of a blue cheese and mint flatbread pizza. They are a blank canvas for flavor combinations.
Here is a recipe I made up just this summer and have been enjoying for breakfast or as a light dessert, and serving at the Aspen Saturday Market. Pair ripe peaches marinated in a little eau de vie or brandy with this recipe for goat cheese mousse and some granola for crunch. It is important to use a really fresh goat cheese for this recipe; I like Avalanche Creamery’s fresh chevre because I’ve met their goats and know that they make this fresh cheese almost every day!
Goat Cheese Mousse
- 8 oz Fresh goat cheese
- 2 oz Cream Cheese
- 2 Tbsp Honey (use more or less to suit your palate)
- 3/4 cup Heavy Cream, Whipped
- Combine the goat cheese, cream cheese and honey and whip until lightened and smooth. At this point you can refrigerate the mixture until you are ready to assemble your desserts.
- To finish the mousse, fold the whipped cream into the tempered goat cheese mixture and serve or portion into glasses.
- Top with peaches and granola and serve.
Chef Sarah Helsley