Peach chocolate sauce, the first of many peach preserves to come, rolled out of the canner this morning at far-too-early o’clock. In case you missed the discussion on Twitter, Tai, Alison & I went peach picking at Fishkill Farms on Sunday. It was hot & sunny, then it rained, then it was hot & sunny again. We picked, and picked, and then picked some more: 40 lbs of peaches later (and 2 quarts of nectarines, and 3 quarts of Italian plums, and a dozen ears of corn, and milk and cheese and…) we sat on the lovely Fishkill back deck, overlooking the rolling hills of the orchard, and rewarded ourselves with ice cream before the top-down-in-the-convertible cruise home. Followed by a relaxy evening of grilled chorizo with habanero mustard, corn, peach salsa and chilled vinho verde, all in all it was a fabulous day.
It’s still a bit early in peach season here, and the peaches were quite firm (some of them rock hard) on the trees. Given this, I thought I had plenty of time to space out my peach preserving over the next few days: the peaches would slowly ripen and get soft, hopefully not all at once, over the week. Imagine my dismay, then, when I checked on the bags of peaches in the garage yesterday afternoon and discovered many of them already bruising, and some (on the bottom of the pile) merrily rotting away. Ack! Granted it was 90 degrees yesterday, and while it stays cooler in the garage, it’s not that cool. Have you seen 40 lbs of peaches? It’s about two bushels: way more than can fit in my fridge in their native form. So commenced Operation Emergency Peach Peeling, Pitting, & Preserving ’10. Tai was enormously helpful with the assembly-line blanching, shocking, peeling, pitting, chopping and macerating and we got about 25 lbs of peaches safely macerating in bowls in the fridge in under 2 hours. Another 6 or 7 lbs were tucked into crevices in the refrigerator and the rest were still firm enough to stay in the garage (I haven’t checked on them yet today: I’m too scared). Given the rather hectic nature of last night’s Maceration Massacre, the next few peach recipes might be a little… scattered. I will write them up following the methods I used, but feel free to adapt to a more common-sense approach. Most of the upcoming recipes will include overnight maceration (possibly for several days!); I will indicate which recipes I think need it for flavor or texture, and which can just as easily be made in a single shot.
As for this recipe? Surprisingly delicious given that I was just wily-nily throwing peaches into various bowls and adding sugar; some lemon juice to one, some booze to another, a little salt, a few chilé peppers. The texture of this is lovely, small chunks of peach suspended in a creamy, just-barely-pourable sauce; the flavor is full of fresh peach, with the chocolate as almost an undernote, and not overly sweet. It went so well with Talenti’s Tahitian Vanilla Bean gelato that I think I would add some vanilla extract next time; also I would be interested in testing out some espresso powder to punch up the chocolate flavor a bit. Usually Tai is the “anything-sweet-over-ice-cream” guy in this house, but even I did a little yummy-noise-moan when I tasted this one (and yes, I did taste test it over ice cream at 10:30 am this morning. I do it all for you, people; all for you.).
Adapted from Peach Fondue & Chocolate Raspberry Sundae Topper in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, J. Kingry & L. Devine, eds.
- 3 and 1/2 lbs peaches (3 lbs net), peeled, pitted, and broken into large chunks
- 2 cups sugar (1 cup organic turbinado and 1 cup organic evaporated cane juice)
- 1/2 cup chocolate liqueur (I used Godiva)
- 4 tbsp bottled lemon juice
- 1/2 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa (see Options)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- citric acid or lemon juice (to prevent browning)
- Day 1. (See Options: this can be a 1-day recipe). Peel peaches by scoring an X into the blossom end of each peach, then dipping in boiling water for 1 – 2 minutes, followed by an ice-water bath. Slip the peels off once the peaches are cool enough to handle (about 30 seconds in the ice bath should do it). Let peaches remain in the ice bath until fully cool, then transfer to a large bowl filled with cold water and 1 tsp citric acid (or 1/4 cup lemon juice).
- Add sugar, chocolate liqueur and lemon juice to a large bowl. Slice peaches around the perimeter and twist to break in half and expose the pit (for very soft peaches, you can simply break the flesh apart with your hands and drop the chunks in the bowl, removing the pit as you go). Remove pit and coarsley chop or break up peach halves; add to the bowl with the sugar and liqueur, tossing occasionally to cover the peaches. Once the last peach is added, mix well, cover tightly, and macerate, refrigerated, overnight.
- Day 2. If canning, prepare canner, jars and lids.
- Transfer the peach mixture to a colander suspended over a large bowl. Add the drained peach chunks to the bowl of a food processor (in batches, if necessary) and pulse a few times until peaches are finely chopped, but not pulverized. Reserve.
- Transfer the collected peach juice to a large, high-sided stockpot (the sauce will spit). While bringing to a boil over high heat, add cocoa and salt and whisk to combine. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, until the liquid becomes syrupy, starts bubbling thickly, and reads 220 degrees F on an instant thermometer, about 15 minutes. (Taste at this point and add sugar or lemon juice to your taste). Add chopped peaches and return to a boil. Continue to boil over high heat, stirring frequently until sauce thickens, volume is reduced about 1/3rd, and sauce spits angrily when a spoon is scraped across the bottom of the pan, about 15 – 20 minutes (approximately 214 degrees F when I canned it; I recommend a long-handled spoon and an oven mitt!).
- Ladle hot sauce into hot, sterilized jars to 1/4-inch headspace; remove air bubbles, wipe rims, affix lids and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.
Yields about 5 and 1/2 cups (four 8-oz jars and three 4-oz jars).
- I made this as a two-day recipe for convenience; I don’t think macerating the fruit overnight really adds much to the flavor or texture of this sauce, so feel free to make it all at once if you like.
- I actually used D’Agoba hot chocolate mix rather than unsweetened cocoa in this recipe (they have apparently changed the jar colors, thankfully, as my two jars look exactly the same – d’oh!). Atlhough the drinking chocolate does contain small amounts of actual chocolate, in addition to sugar and cocoa powder, I feel this preserve is still safe for room-temperature storage due to the small amount of chocolate in comparison to the amount of acidic fruit; in addition, the texture of the sauce is no thicker than a standard dessert sauce, and less thick than a fruit butter, so I am comfortable that this is safely canned. I would, however, recommend using cocoa powder, not only for safety, but for added chocolate flavor. Do not increase the amount of cocoa powder without also increasing the amounts of acid (peaches and lemon juice).
- Despite the chocolaty appearance of this sauce, the taste is more peach than chocolate: I think a tablespoon or two of instant espresso powder might amp up the chocolate flavor. A teaspoon of vanilla extract might also be a nice addition.
- As always, I don’t like my fruit preserves overwhelmed with sugar; this sauce is sweeter than many of my preserves, but still calls for far less sugar than the Ball recipes (which would add about 8 cups of sugar to this amount of fruit). You can safely add any amount of additional sugar to the recipe to suit your taste.
Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year. Refrigerated, use within 1 month.