Although Peach Melba itself isn't Swiss, for a long time it was a favourite dinner party dessert—just ask Betty Bossi, who lists it on page 61 of her Cooking for Guests (well prepared — uncomplicated! suggests the subtitle).
But actually it was a famous partnership between Swiss hotelier Cesar Ritz and famous French chef Auguste Escoffier that enabled the creation of this and many other so named treats of the late 1800s (Melba Toast! Cherries Jubilee! Belle Hélène!)
In the 1890s, the pair teamed up at the London Savoy where they introduced French Haute Cuisine to the British (and later, after they were fired from the Savoy, they did more of the same at their newly established London Ritz). More on the fascinating history of Cesar Ritz, here.
The opera features a swan-drawn boat, and Escoffier mirrored this in his presentation of the dish, having the peaches and ice cream encased in spun sugar and resting on a swan made of ice.
Escoffier used simple, perfect ingredients in his dessert—soft peaches, sweet raspberries, vanilla ice cream—saying that any variation ruined the balance of taste. With the exception of grilling the peaches rather than poaching them, this recipe stays true to Escoffier's original (minus the ice swan).
I have tried to outlay the simplest version of this dessert, though for more possible variations check out Felicity Cloake's How to Cook the Perfect Peach Melba.
500 ml milk
15 g cornstarch
30 g cream cheese, soft
300 ml whipping cream
150 g sugar
1 tbsp vanilla paste or extract
You need to make three separate mixtures.
450 ml of the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt
50 ml of the milk and cornstarch, whisked well
cream cheese, whisked to loosen
Put the pot over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Cook, whisking, for a few minutes.
Take the pot off the heat, and when the boil has subsided, stir in the cornstarch mixture.
Put the pot back on medium heat, and cook for about a minute, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.
Pour slowly into the large bowl with cream cheese, whisking constantly.
Now let the mixture cool a little (until it isn't steaming anymore) and cover with plastic wrap, pressed directly to the surface of the mixture.
If you would like the mixture to cool quickly, you can set the bowl in a cold water bath (or sink filled with cold water). Otherwise you can let it cool on the counter and then put it in the fridge.
When the mixture is fully cooled, spin in your ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer's instructions.
2-3 peaches per person
Grill the peaches on the barbecue or in the oven, under the broiler for about 10-15 minutes or until they get a little browned.
Alternatively, you can poach and skin the peaches. Plop them in boiling water for a minute, then shock them in cold water. Remove the skins.
400 g raspberries (fresh, or frozen and thawed)
1-2 tbsp sugar (if needed, depending on the sweetness of the fruit)
1 tsp lemon juice
shot of booze
Using an immersion blender, blend everything. If you like a perfectly smooth sauce, strain out the raspberry seeds.
Scoop your ice cream out into a bowl, place a few peach halves on top and pour the raspberry sauce over.
Some recipes top with slivered, toasted almonds and whipped cream.