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    Plums in Anise- and Orange-Spiced Armagnac

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    Plums in Anise- and Orange-Spiced Armagnac

    These glorious, boozy plums make a fantastic winter dessert teamed with rich vanilla ice cream or with fluffy, steamed sponges and lashings of hot, creamy custard. English plums are still wonderful at this time of year, and those bottled in September and October should be fabulous by Christmas. For the best results, choose unblemished fruits that are ripe but still firm, and take care not to overcook them.

    • Preparation time: 10 minutes, plus cooling
    • Cooking time: 5 minutes, plus cooling
    • Total time: 15 minutes, plus cooling 15 minutes

    Makes: 2 x 1 litre jars

    Ingredients

    • 1.2kg plums
    • 700ml bottle armagnac
    • 400g caster sugar
    • 200ml water
    • Pared zest of 1 orange
    • 4-5 whole star anise

    Method

    1. Wash the plums and discard any stalks. Pour the armagnac into a saucepan and add the caster sugar, water, orange zest and star anise. Heat gently and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Increase the heat slightly and simmer the mixture for 3-4 minutes.
    2. Add the plums and cook very gently for 4-5 minutes, until just beginning to soften, taking care not to overcook them. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Meanwhile, sterilise two x 1 litre jars, either by putting them through a dishwasher cycle, or by washing in hot, soapy water, rinsing well, then drying in a very low oven.
    3. Using a slotted spoon, carefully divide the plums, star anise and orange zest between the sterilised jars and pour over the flavoured armagnac, making sure the fruit is completely covered. Leave for at least two weeks (preferably longer), making sure that the plums remain well covered by the armagnac.

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