It's a hot summer in Cleveland and I'm already craving peaches, though they're not quite ready yet, so I decided to push the season up by poaching the earliest peaches in a sweet and spicy tea. —Emily | Cinnamon&Citrus
large mid-ripe peaches (fragrant, but on the firm side), halved and pitted
coin-sized slices of fresh ginger root
aniseed (aka fennel seed) or one star anise
whole black peppercorns
cardamom pods, lightly crushed
bag black tea
pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper
Combine the sugar, water, ginger, spices through the cloves, and black tea in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and allowing the tea to color the poaching liquid.
Place one peach (two halves) at a time in the slowly simmering poaching liquid and cook 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove to a dinner plate with a bit of a lip to catch any escaping peach juices and allow to cool enough to handle before gently removing the skin (it should slip right off while the fruit is still somewhat warm). Repeat with your other peach. Leave the peeled fruit to cool to room temperature before serving.
Once the peaches are poached and cooling, increase the heat and continue to cook the poaching liquid at a quick simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes until reduced and syrupy. Strain to remove the whole spices. Season the strained liquid with a pinch of sea salt, a few grinds of black pepper, and the vanilla extract. Allow to cool to room temperature.
While your peaches and syrup are cooling, put 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream in each of 4 dessert bowls and chill in the fridge, for serving.
When ready to serve, remove your chilled bowls of cream from the fridge. Place one peach half in each bowl of cream and drizzle liberally with the Chai syrup. Enjoy!