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Summer is almost here and a better one hopefully awaits us this year. As I venture out to my local farmers’ markets, brightly-colored apricots and peaches beckon on every other stand. With their sweet fragrance and juicy interior, these stone fruits invite simple eating out of hand. But to take what seems like perfection to a new level, poaching these fruits lightly in brewed Yunnan tea with its slightly smoky, brisk, and even peppery notes leads to a simple make-ahead dessert that can follow any dinner from the grill.
Stone Fruit Poached in Yunnan Tea
- Choose fruits (1 peach and 1 small apricot per person) that are yielding but not overripe.
- Halve them (peel the peaches first if the fuzzy exterior bothers you—it does me), remove the pits and set aside.
- Brew the tea (roughly 1 t. per 8 ozs of water)—1 quart for 4 servings of the dessert.
- Add sugar to taste and simmer the tea.
- Place the fruits into the liquid and cook at the barest simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and let the fruits cool in the poaching liquid.
- Then remove the fruits to a bowl and refrigerate.
I like to add 8 ounces of heavy cream to the poaching liquid and cook over medium high heat to reduce to a coating consistency. Let this sauce cool and then, when ready to serve, place the poached fruits into individual dessert bowls and pour or spoon a bit of the reduced tea and cream sauce over them. Serve with a crunchy spiced cookie on the side which you can make and bake ahead (see recipe below), either left whole or crumbled over the dessert just before serving.
Nice Spiced Cookie
Yield: 30-32 cookies, weighing approximately ½ ounce each.
A pile of fresh stone fruits: Peaches, apricots, and nectarines.
- 8 oz or 1-3/4 cups (226 grams) all-purpose flour
- ½ t. ground ginger
- 1 t. ground cinnamon
- ¼ t. ground cloves
- Scant ½ t. fine salt
- 5.2 oz (150 grams) unsalted butter, soft
- 2.6 oz. or ½ cup, not packed (75 grams) brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 t. vanilla extract
- Additional granulated sugar for sprinkling on the finished cookies
- Sift the flour with the spices and salt.
- Using the paddle attachment on an electric mixer, cream the butter until light in texture (it almost becomes white when ready) and smooth. Add the sugar and mix to blend.
- Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix to blend. Add the flour and mix only until the flour disappears.
- Place a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap on the work surface. Remove the dough from the mixer, wrap in the paper or plastic. Pound with a rolling pin to flatten to about ½ inch thick and then chill, wrapped, until cold – about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll with a light hand to an even thickness of approximately ¼ inch. Cut into strips, squares, rectangles, diamonds, or triangles (this avoids lots of re-rolling of the dough to use it up, which toughens the dough somewhat).
- As you cut the shapes out of the dough, place them onto one or two parchment lined baking sheets (these cookies don’t spread but it is still advisable to place them about 2 inches apart for even baking).
- Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Watch these carefully as they will burn.
- Immediately upon removing the cookies from the oven, sprinkle with granulated sugar (some will settle onto the cookie).
- Let cool and serve immediately or store in an airtight container at room temperature.
For another apricot recipe, see Robert’s article: Loquats and Apricots: A Celebration of Spring in a Bowl of Tea