This year’s crop of summer stone fruit is looking pretty dammed good with some delicious apricots, cherries and peaches in our greengrocers and markets. With such good quality fruit available I decided to team this season’s bounty with my current favourite wine (locally made prosecco) and create a special summer dessert which is simply poached fruit in prosecco.
Poaching fruit means cooking in syrup until just tender. I like to cook each fruit variety separately as they cook at different speeds. This is different to stewed fruit which is cooked longer until the fruit breaks down to a really soft texture.
Start by placing 1.5 litres of liquid into a saucepan. I used up some leftover prosecco and made the balance up with water. Or just start with water. Either is fine. Add 1 1/2 cups caster sugar, the juice of 1 lemon, 2 split vanilla beans and 4 lightly crushed cardamom pods.
Place on the stove and bring to the boil and cook for about 5 minutes. The syrup will still be fairly tart but the stone fruit will add plenty of natural sweetness. This will be enough liquid to poach a few kilos of fruit.
So first up a kilo of large apricots cut in half and kernels removed. Add the apricot halves and simmer until tender. Maybe 6-7 minutes. Remove from the poaching liquid and allow to cool. Some will be really soft and others still holding their shape, but that’s quite normal. When cool remove the apricot skins if they will come off easily. Set aside.
Do the same for a kilo of peaches although these can be quite fiddly to prepare if they are clingstone (early in the season). They can be cut into quarters. Poach, remove, cool then peel. Again 4-5 minutes will be ample.
With the cherries remove the stems and cut in half to remove the stones. If they are still nice and firm it’s easier to break them in half with your thumbnails. Add the cherries to the poaching syrup and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove the cherries and allow them to cool slightly
At this stage taste the poaching liquid as it should be rich, sweet and tasting pretty dammed amazing. Strain the liquid and place into a clean saucepan. The vanilla pods can be rinsed, dried and wrapped in cling film for a second use.
Then boil the poaching liquid until you have just 500ml (2 cups) remaining. It will become beautifully intense syrup by this stage with a delicious, concentrated fruit flavour.
Place the cooled and peeled apricots and peaches in a large bowl. Spoon the cherries on top then pour over the reduced syrup. Stir gently to combine trying not to break the fruit pieces. Allow to cool or chill in the refrigerator if keeping for more than an hour or two.
To serve place 2-3 tablespoons of the fruit and the syrup into a tall glass. Pop the cork on a chilled bottle of prosecco and pour in 25 ml (1/2 cup) onto the fruit and serve immediately. The combination of dipping through the sparkling wine and down into the poached fruit is a delicious contrast of flavours and textures. This has been served at two recent pre-Christmas dinners and has gone down a treat.
I hope you get the time to prepare a dessert like this to share with family and friends over summer. Enjoy!