- Prepare the fruit: Preheat the oven to 240°C (220°C fan oven), gas 9. Put a sieve over a pan and drain the peach halves into it. Set aside.
- Prepare the brioche: Trim off the edges of the brioche slices, removing the crust and rounding off the slices into circles that are slightly larger than the peaches. Spread the slices generously with jam, especially in the middle, and put them in a baking tray or shallow ovenproof dish. If you have more than 4 peach halves, chop the remainder and divide among the jam-covered brioche.
- Add the mascarpone: Put 1 tbsp mascarpone in the hollow of a peach half, leaving it in a dollop, then turn the peach upside down on to a slice of brioche and press it in place so that the mascarpone is concealed. (Don't worry if a little mascarpone shows – as long as most is inside the peach it will cook perfectly.) Repeat with the remaining peach halves and mascarpone.
- Add sugar and almonds: Sprinkle half the sugar over the domed tops of the peaches. Cut the butter into four slices and gently press one slice on top of each peach. Top with flaked almonds, pressing some on the butter so that a few will stay on top during cooking, then sprinkle with the remaining sugar.
- Bake the peaches: Bake for 7 minutes or until the butter has melted and the almonds are lightly browned. The edges of the brioche should be browned and crisp in places.
- Make the sauce: While the peaches are baking, boil the reserved peach syrup hard for about 3 minutes or until thickened. Transfer the peaches on brioche to warm serving plates. Add the brandy to the syrup and spoon it over the peaches. Serve immediately.
*For brandy, use sweet sherry or add frozen raspberries to the syrup and spoon alongside the brioche. *For mascarpone, use ricotta cheese.
Mascarpone pears: Follow the basic recipe but use canned pear halves instead of peaches and trim the brioche to fit around them. Spread the brioche with orange marmalade at step 2. At step 6, add 2 tbsp marmalade to the syrup when boiling down.
…or try this
For an impressive flambé dessert, cook and serve the peaches in a shallow ovenproof dish. Spoon the syrup over, without adding the brandy, then warm 3-4 tbsp brandy in a pan for a few seconds. Pour the warm brandy over and set it alight, then take it to the table flaming.