This is definitely the fanciest dessert I’ve ever made, and let me tell you, it is something incredible!

You’re looking at roasted peaches with vanilla ice cream, a chewy almond crumb and balsamic reduction syrup—all gourmet, seasonal and flavorful. The flavors are fresh and intense, and all the elements complement each other wonderfully.

Never had balsamic in a dessert before? It may sound strange, but it tastes rich and silky and punchy, and balances the sweetness from the ice cream and the crumb perfectly.

It may seem like a lot of work, but each element is relatively simple, so don’t let that scare you. You can also make some of the elements in advance, so you’re not doing it all at the same time.

To make the almond crumb, you’ll pulse all the ingredients together in a food processor and press down in a few pieces on a baking sheet, like this:

If you press it all in one big piece, it won’t bake evenly, so several pieces is the way to go. Don’t worry about how it looks, because you’re just going to crumble it again in the food processor later:

For the roasted peaches, you have two options. You can roast them plain, or with some honey and fresh herbs. It’s up to you. I recommend using the honey and herbs only if you have excellent, good quality honey (not your average grocery-store variety) and fresh rosemary or thyme.

Note: I’d run out of fresh thyme when I took the picture, so I sprinkled on some dried flakes just to convey the idea. But I don’t recommend it taste-wise.

The other two elements are simple. The balsamic syrup is simply balsamic vinegar cooked down to half its volume. It’s important to use good quality balsamic vinegar. When you reduce it, the flavors intensify, so you definitely don’t want to start with a poor or mediocre product.

For the vanilla ice cream, you can make your own or use store-bought. I used store-bought here, because I am still trying to perfect my vanilla ice cream recipe. It is not yet shareable. Just make sure to buy the good stuff—not the artificial. It makes a big difference.

When everything’s ready, all that’s left to do is assemble. A glass makes this dessert look elegant and refined, but you could probably make it look good on a plate or in a shallow bowl, too.

It’s not a particularly kid-friendly dessert, but your adult family, friends and guests are sure to be highly impressed. Enjoy!

Ingredients and Directions for the Almond Crumb

  • 100 grams cold butter, cubed
  • ¾ cup almond flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 10 salted, roasted almonds
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Put the dry ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times, just to combine. Add the cold butter and vanilla and pulse again until dough just comes together. Press down in several pieces onto a parchment paper–lined baking sheet and bake at 350° F for 15–20 minutes. Remove and let cool. Return to the food processor and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. (Watch carefully to make sure it doesn’t go to fine, like a powder.) Set aside. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a day or two, or in the freezer for longer.

Ingredients and Directions for the Roasted Peaches

  • 5 peaches
  • 1–2 tbsp. honey (optional)
  • Fresh thyme or rosemary (optional)

Wash the peaches and pat them dry. Halve the peaches and remove the pits. Place the peach halves in a baking dish. Drizzle with good quality honey and place a fresh sprig of fresh rosemary or thyme on top. Bake at 400° F for 20–25 minutes, until peaches start to break down and soften. Baking time will vary depending on your pan, your oven and the size of your peaches. You want them to be soft enough that you can put your spoon through the flesh easily, but firm enough that they don’t fall apart when you try to take them off the pan.

Remove the fresh herbs, and set the peaches aside until you’re ready to assemble the dessert. You can use them warm, at room temperature, or even cold. Store in the refrigerator for later use.

Note: You can skip the honey and herbs entirely. If you do use them, you’ll want to make sure you use only good quality honey and fresh herbs.

Ingredients and Directions for the Balsamic Syrup

  • 1 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sugar (optional)

Place the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a saucepan or small frying pan. Simmer over a low flame until the mixture has reduced by half. You will need to stir it periodically. Don’t try to hurry the process by turning up the flame; patience is key. The syrup with thicken as it cools. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Note: Use the best quality balsamic vinegar you can find. The flavor intensifies as it cooks down, so you don’t want to start with a bad one.

For the Ice Cream

You will need good quality vanilla ice cream, either store-bought or homemade. An artificial-tasting ice cream will ruin this otherwise gourmet dessert.

To Assemble

  1. Place a spoonful or two of the almond crumb in the bottom of a glass.
  2. Gently place a peach on top of the crumb.
  3. Place a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of the peach.
  4. Drizzle some balsamic syrup over the ice cream. (Keep in mind, it has a very strong flavor, so a small amount is plenty.)
  5. Eat and enjoy!

Note: Do not assemble in advance. Store each element separately, and put together immediately before serving.

What is the most elegant dessert you’ve ever made? Have you ever used balsamic vinegar in a dessert? Leave a comment and let us know.