Apricots are just amazing when they are gently poached; so much better than eating them fresh. They are sweet and juicy and tangy and speak to me of summer. I poached these apricots in a simple sugar syrup with vanilla, a strip of lemon rind and a star anise, flavours that go really well with the apricots. You can eat these warm or cool; for breakfast, brunch or dessert; with cream, thick yoghurt sweetened with honey, or with ice cream; on top of your meusli, or just on their own.
750g fresh apricots
1/2 cup raw caster sugar
1 cup water
1 vanilla bean
1 star anise
a strip of lemon peel (be careful to just use the peel, and none of the bitter pith)
In a wide based pan place the sugar, water and star anise. Carefully split the vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds and then add the seeds and the vanilla bean to the other ingredients in the pan. Heat over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Wash and then cut the apricots in halves. Carefully prise out the seeds and then place the apricots in a single layer in the pan. Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer and cook the apricots for about 5 – 6 minutes until they are soft but still hold their shape. Be careful to keep a close eye while they are cooking otherwise you’ll end up with apricot schmoosh. Leave the lemon rind, vanilla bean and star anise in the pan with the apricots while they cool as the flavours will continue to develop and become more intense. Eat them warm or cool.