“Snuffbox” peaches: make the Bellini cocktail’s perfect puree…
…or eat them one by one (warning: have plenty of napkins handy).
These white tabacchiere (named for their snuffbox shape) dell’Etna, also known as saturnine peaches begin to show up at markets here mid-to-late July. They’re cultivated in Sicily, at various locations that circle the Etna volcano, where the climate and the soil are perfectly adapted to their needs: warm and dry, with well-drained soil. According to Slow Food, they’ve only been around since WWII, when estate agricultural laws changed to permit perennial cultivation (as opposed to only annual), which would fortunately include peach trees.
While the snuffbox name might not be an appetizing association, these are some of the sweetest and juiciest to be had, and due to their soft pulp make an excellent choice for the puree required to whip up the famous Bellini on a summer’s eve.
Recipe from Harry’s Bar:
Made with Prosecco instead of Champagne, it is nevertheless widely regarded as the best Champagne cocktail in the world.
When making a Bellini, everything (the glasses, Prosecco and white peach puree) should be as cold as possible.
The general rule is to use one part white peach puree to three parts Prosecco. Use fresh frozen white peach puree when you can, but when making your own puree, never use a food processor because it aerates the fruit. (Maurice Graham Henry often uses a cheese shredder, shredding the peaches and using a strainer to collect the maximum amount of juice.) Add a bit of sugar or some simple syrup if the puree is too tart or a tad sour.
And absolutely never use yellow peaches.
In recent times, Bellini recipes have begun to include a touch of raspberry juice — evidently the white peach color isn’t lively enough. Some use a two-to-one ratio of puree to Prosecco; Mario Batali uses goes one-to-one in Simple Italian Cooking, and has adapted the recipe for other fresh fruit, including pomegranate. Now that would be a color the maestro Bellini (after whom the cocktail was named) might have found truly appealing!
In order not to diminish the peaches’ sweetness, a dry Prosecco is probably preferable to a brut. I love the idea of using a cheese shredder for the puree — but I keep consuming the peaches by themselves so that I don’t have enough left over for the cocktail. Markets are open again on Tuesday, I’ll give it another try then…