Peach and Honey Verrine

The French word “verrine” translates literally as “protective glass”.  In culinary terms a “verrine” is a small glass container filled with layered components of either a sweet or savory nature.  Each layer complements the other in flavor, texture, and color.  They are a versatile way to serve desserts and appetizers; every spoonful gives a different taste sensation.  My verrine is a combination of sweet honey jelly, topped with rich whipped cream, bright summer peaches, and a hazelnut crumble.  I was trying to channel the last of summer’s sweet stone fruit in harmony with a hint of a popular fall dessert, the fruit crisp.  Here is the recipe:

Peach and Honey Verrine
(makes 6 servings)
Honey Jelly
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1 cup water
3/4 cup honey (use your favorite mild-flavored honey)
juice of 1/2 a small lemon
Honey-Glazed Peaches
4 ripe but firm peaches, peeled, pitted and diced
2 tablespoons honey
Hazelnut Crumble
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped hazelnuts
Whipped Cream
1/2 cup heavy cream (35%)
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup sour cream

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin powder over 1/4 cup water.  Set aside to soften.   In a saucepan, bring the remaining water and honey to a boil.  Add the gelatin and stir to dissolve.  Add the lemon juice a little at a time until the sweet, tart balance is to your liking.  Divide the mixture among 6 attractive small glasses or jam jars (I used 7 ounce glasses with a slightly flared profile; I think the larger diameter opening makes eating the dessert easier).  Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.  You can make the jelly a day ahead, cover it securely with plastic wrap once it is set.  In a large, non-stick skillet bring the honey and peaches to a simmer and cook until the peaches are just tender and the juices are syrupy.  Let cool, then refrigerate.  Drain the peaches before layering into the glasses.  To make the crumble, preheat the oven to 350F.  Line a medium baking sheet with parchment paper.  Combine the flour, brown sugar and salt in a medium bowl.  Cut in the butter until the mixture acquires a sandy texture.  Stir in the chopped hazelnuts.  Spread the mixture on the prepared sheet and bake for about 10 minutes.  Stir the mixture and continue to bake until golden brown, about 5 more minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.  In a medium bowl, whip the cream with the honey to soft peaks.  Add the sour cream and beat just to combine.  To assemble your verrines, spoon some whipped cream over the honey jelly, top with the cooled, drained peaches, then sprinkle with the hazelnut crumble.  Serve immediately.
(adapted from apple and maple verrine in”Ricardo:  Meals for Every Occasion” by Ricardo Larrivee)

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