The Enchanting Way Jacques Pépin Dresses Up Fresh Peaches

Jacques Pépin may be a legendary chef, cookbook author, and TV show host who worked for three French heads of state (including Charles de Gaulle), but he got his recipe for a summer peach dessert from his friend Marty. The dish, which Pépin told KQED he calls "Peaches Marty," is essentially baked peaches but with a delicious twist. It's made by filling peach halves with a mixture of butter and light brown sugar, baking them until slightly brown, and topping the whole thing off with fluffy spoonfuls of mascarpone cheese and shredded basil. It's sweet, juicy, creamy, and bubbly — what's not to love?

Peaches Marty is featured in Pépin's 2015 cookbook, "Heart & Soul in the Kitchen." He also introduced the recipe in an episode of his 2015 TV series, "Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul," alongside other treats like rhubarb-honey coupe with creamy yogurt sauce and chocolate pistachio biscotti. But this peachy dessert works best when the ripe yellow fruits are available in the summer, he explains, and you can make it as light or as rich as you'd like.

It's a party with Peaches Marty

Peaches Marty comes with a few customization options: If you want to lighten it up, leave the mascarpone out, and let the fresh peach and basil flavors shine. But the mascarpone and a side of sugar cookies gives it extra decadence — so much so, in fact, that Pépin says he only serves half a peach per person.

Since peaches are the star of the show here, it's essential to pick them at their ripest. You can tell if a peach is a prime candidate by giving it a gentle squeeze — if it yields to the touch just a little, it should be good to go. Pépin also pours water in the pan around the peaches before baking, which prevents them from later sticking to the pan, and helps create steam that makes them soft.

And to make this dessert a little fancier, try eating your baked peaches in a bowl alongside mascarpone, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or even Greek yogurt, and crumbling cookies on top. You could use sugar cookies like Pépin does, but amaretto or almond biscotti would also be delicious options. Or, leave the cookies out altogether, and opt for savory toppings that complement the basil, like balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.