Photo by Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post
Simmering an everyday balsamic vinegar with a little honey and allowing it to cool turns it into a delectable sweet-tart syrup that pairs perfectly with fruit and cheese.
Here, it is tossed with fresh sliced peaches and a fragrant pinch of thyme, and served over a simple, almond-scented ricotta cream. A crowning crunch of toasted almonds tops off this dessert, which, although easy and inexpensive to make, tastes like pure luxury.
Make Ahead: The ricotta cream needs to be chilled for at least 2 hours before serving and can be refrigerated (covered) for up to 3 days. The peaches can be macerated up to 2 hours in advance
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup honey
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
3 large, ripe peaches, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Combine the ricotta, 2 tablespoons of the honey and the almond extract in a mini food processor; puree until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (and up to 3 days).
Combine the balsamic vinegar and the remaining 2 tablespoons of honey in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it has reduced to a syrup measuring about 1/4 cup, which will thicken further as it cools. (If the balsamic vinegar you’re using is aged or of very good quality, it will take about half the time to reduce to 1/4 cup.)
Toast the almonds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, shaking the pan as needed to avoid scorching. Cool completely.
Toss together the peaches, thyme and the balsamic syrup in a medium bowl. (This may be done up to 2 hours in advance.)
Divide the ricotta mixture among 4 cocktail glasses or dessert bowls. Top with the peach mixture, sprinkle with almonds and serve.
Makes 4 servings
Per Serving: Calories 230; Total fat 8g (Sat fat 3g); Protein 9g; Carb 37g; Fiber 3g; Cholesterol 25mg; Sodium 90mg