The original version of Peach Melba is a peach, halved, poached and skinned, then sliced, sprinkled with sugar and cooled.
A raspberry sauce is made with the seeds strained out, sweetened and then chilled.
Ice cream is put into a serving dish, the sliced peaches are arranged on top, then the dessert is drizzled with the raspberry sauce.
More modern versions usually halve the peaches instead of slicing them, and sometimes poach them in a sugar syrup.
Peach Melba was created by the chef Georges Auguste Escoffier (1846 – 1935) for Nellie Melba, the singer. In the 1892/1893 music hall season in London, Melba was staying at the Savoy Hotel, where Escoffier was chef. She knew Escoffier, and sent him a pair of tickets to come see her in Lohengrin. In the opera, there was an impressive swan boat.
The next night after dinner at the hotel, Escoffier served Melba a dessert of poached peaches served on ice cream in a dish set on a swan carved out of ice. At the time, he called it “Pecheau Cygne” (Peach Swan.)
A few years later, Escoffier and César Ritz opened the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in London. There, Escoffier added a sauce of puréed raspberries to the dish, and renamed it to Pêche Melba.
Escoffier insisted that the dish used to serve Peach Melba in be silver.
Melba Toast was also named in Melba’s honour.