June 23rd, 2011

Grilled Peaches With Ginger Coconut Caramel

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Serves 6 to 8

Grilled peaches…everyone is doing it! And why not, who doesn’t love a summer dessert that doesn’t involve turning the oven on?

When you grill a peach, or any fruit really, you want the exact right amount of caramelization. Too much and there’s bitterness, too little and it’s just kind of like eating a warm peach. Many recipes call for rubbing the peaches with sugar before grilling, but I think that can lead to grill misfires (pun not really intended, I just got lucky.) I like the method in this recipe because the peach is simply sprinkled with a little lemon juice and oil. Not adding sugar lessens the danger of over-caramelization, an epidemic that studies show affects 4 out of 5 peaches at every barbeque. Instead I rely on the caramel for sweetness, so let’s move on to that since it’s really the reason you’re here.

Ginger coconut caramel sauce! This sweet, fragrant, smooth and syrupy sauce is what elevates these grilled peaches to unforgettable. And even if you don’t have a candy thermometer, or if you’ve never made caramel before, this recipe is pretty easy and forgiving. Try to stop yourself from licking the spoon, just try it! No but seriously, I burned my tongue because I couldn’t wait, so you remember to let it cool a bit first! An added bonus is that you’ll probably have a little extra to drizzle over ice cream throughout the week.

I’d say that vegan vanilla ice cream is a total must here. I love good old So Delicious soy-based vanilla, but I think that a coconut based one would be a great choice, too.

Also, use plain white sugar here. The health-food sugars just don’t seem to work as well in caramels, I’m not sure why. So use beet sugar if you’re concerned about non-vegan filtration processes.

For the caramel:
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon cornstarch plus 1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, grated on a microplane
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the peaches:
6 to 8 ripe peaches
Juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons canola oil

And vanilla ice cream to serve

First make the caramel:

In a 2-quart pot, mix together sugar, water and maple syrup. Place over medium heat, and stir with a wisk until the sugar has dissolved.

Once dissolved, you don’t have to stir as much, but definitely keep a close eye so that it doesn’t burn, but do stir occasionally. It should be bubbly at the edges and start to turn a few shades darker. If it seems to be bubbling wildly, then lower the heat a bit.

Let cook this way for 15 minutes or so. In the meantime, mix the cornstarch with the tablespoon of water and slowly add the coconut milk, mixing with a fork to thoroughly incorporate the cornstarch.

Once the caramel turns a deep honey brown, slowly stream in the coconut milk, whisking constantly, then mix in the coconut oil, ginger and salt.

Cook for another 7 minutes or so, so that the cornstarch thickens the caramel a bit. Let cool a bit, but serve warm.

Prepare the Peaches:

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Remember to lightly grease it first so that the peaches don’t stick.

It’s easiest to slice the peaches width-wise (another way to think about it, is around the waist,) not stem to bottom. The pit will come out easier. Once sliced, hold each end of the peach and twist until it releases. Remove the pit, place peaches in a big bowl, and coat in oil and lemon juice. Use your hands to gently rub them and make sure they’re coated.

Grill each peach face down for about 7 minutes. Use a thin metal spatula to lift them from the grill. They should be tender and have awesome grill marks. Flip and grill for another 2 minutes or so, just to soften a bit more.

Serve immediately, with ice cream and drizzled with caramel.

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