grilled peaches (with spicy caramel & vanilla yogurt)

i’m a keen believer that desserts should make up a whole meal. that’s when i like a good, heavy cake or a bowl of ice cream, or just something really sugary and heaven: as an actual meal. not just the third course. most nights, after an extensive dinner (like for example this one of risotto ai funghi), a lighter dessert version is sometimes welcome (i’m not talking about myself, clearly, but there happen to be people who’s sweet tooth isn’t exactly as developed as mine, apparently…). anyway, these grilled peaches are a fruity dessert, you know, with not much dough and carbs in them. grilled peaches is a proper enough dessert to be called one, and still not very heavy. it’s sort of a win-win situation (for me and my not-so-sweet-toothed guests, that is).

grilled peaches (with spicy caramel & vanilla yogurt)
serves 4

ingredients:
4 sweet peaches, halved and pitted
1 cup sugar
1/2 orange juice or cranberry juice
1 cinammon stick or 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon (or both)
3 star anises
5 cloves
2 cardamom pods, crushed in a mortar and ground
2 tbsp. maple syrup

1 cup natural greek yogurt
1 vanilla bean, abrased, or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pack vanilla sugar
2 tbsp. extra sugar
1 cup blueberries, washed
8 soft amaretto cookies, crumbled

directions:
heat a grilling pan, and when really hot place the peaches cut sides down in the pan. don’t move for about 3 minutes, then slightly pick up to see if they’re already browned a little. from the heat, peaches get to caramelize and develop much more fragrance. try to leave them rather longish and don’t spoil the grilling process too early. when done, turn halves on the other side, now with the cut side looking to you, and shove them to one side of the pan.

in another corner of the pan, pour the sugar and let sit for a few seconds, until the sugar caramelizes (it starts to brown around the edges). when it’s brown, add the liquid (orange or cranberry juice, or water will do, too, if you don’t have anything else at hand, as well as the maple syrup). the caramel will sizzle and bubble and turn rather hard at first. patience! immediately add all the spices (cinnamon, anise, cloves and cardamom) and cook with the caramel slowly, for about 2-3 minutes, to infuse, until the caramel ‘dissolves’ again.

in the meantime, mix together the yogurt with the vanilla bean extract and the sugars. when finished, place the peaches on a plate (not on a too small one, like i did…) and pour the remaining caramel sauce over them. add a whip of vanilla yogurt, cover with some blueberries and crumble 1 or 2 soft amaretti on top. serve immediately. enjoy – and don’t forget to lick your fingers afterwards.

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