Thai-flavoured poached peaches with cashew caramel mascarpone

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Preparation info

  • For

    6

    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Fusion: A Culinary Journey

Fusion

By Peter Gordon

Published 2010

  • About

As I was writing this book I realised I use chilli in quite a few of my desserts. It’s the combination of fruity sweetness and the bite of chilli that appeals to me. You can opt not to use it and the dessert will still be lovely, but it will be missing that special something. The cashew caramel mascarpone is really good and is also lovely served with a steamed pudding or a wedge of fig and walnut tart. It was in India that I first overdosed on cashew nuts. Although a native of Brazil, it must have been the Portuguese traders who settled in Goa who introduced them. They’d always been a really expensive delicacy when I was growing up in New Zealand, but in India, and in Goa in particular, they were reasonably priced, fresh and delicious. There was also a not-so-nice liqueur made from them, or their fruit, so perhaps it was actually that that I had too much of. To this day, however, I can never stop at just a handful of them - I usually eat them until there are none left, which isn’t a good look.

Ingredients

  • 6 ripe peaches
  • 2 thumbs of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, discard 2 outer layers, thinly sliced
  • ½ red chilli, sliced
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp) lime juice
  • 150 ml runny honey
  • 200 g sugar
  • 80 g cashew nuts, toasted
  • 150 g mascarpone
  • 100 ml double cream or whipping cream

Method

Using a small, sharp knife, score an X 3 cm long into one end of the peaches, barely cutting into the flesh - this will help you peel it later. Place the ginger, lemongrass, chilli, lime leaves, lime juice, honey and 150 g of the sugar into a pot wide enough to hold all the peaches in one layer - don’t crowd them. Add 2 litres of water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes. Gently drop the peaches in off a slotted spoon and bring back to a rapid simmer. Place a cartouche on top of the peaches and poach until cooked - you should be able to poke a toothpick into the centre easily. From time to time, give them a tumble to help them cook evenly. Once they’re cooked, turn the heat off, carefully take them out of the liquid and plunge into a bowl of icy water. Leave for a few minutes then peel the skin from them and return to the still hot liquid and leave to cool in it. Once cooled they can be kept covered in the fridge for 5-6 days, so long as they float in their liquid.

Reserve a dozen cashews and split them in half, then roughly chop the remainder. Place the remaining 50 g of sugar in a heavy-based pan and place over a moderate heat. Cook until it melts and then turns golden brown. You can stir it gently once it begins to melt, but go gently or it can caramelise. If nothing is happening to the sugar turn the heat up until it does. Stir in the chopped nuts then tip onto a baking tray lined with non-stick paper, spread it out, being careful not to burn yourself with the hot caramel, and leave it to go cold. Carefully pour a litre of hot water into the pot and leave it to simmer for a few minutes - this helps when it comes time to clean it. Once the cashew caramel has cooled and set, break it up by bashing with a rolling pin or similar and mix into the mascarpone. Then mix in the cream and stir briskly to incorporate it all.

To Serve

Place the reserved cashews into your serving dishes, add a peach and some of the poaching liquor and serve the cashew mascarpone on the side. I also like to serve extra runny cream as well.