Vanilla Poached Apricots with Orange Flower

Mark Hughes Desserts, Spice 0 Comments

Being more savoury than sweet, we prefer starters to desserts a lot of the time, but Vanilla Poached Apricots with Orange Flower tick all the boxes: light, simple, fresh & tangy with the Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche to add creaminess. Deceptively simple to prepare, it’s an ideal foil for a big meal or for those times when you just want something a bit different. We’ve partnered them as the finish to our Valentine’s Day meal but they’re good all year round!

We use apricots when we can find them but you can substitute for peaches if you prefer & extend the cooking time by 5-10 minutes to make sure they’re soft. Rose-water is probably the more traditional partner to this dessert but we prefer orange-flower water instead, so we use that. Use whichever you prefer. You can pick up rosewater in most supermarkets now & it’ll last for ages as you’ll only use a capful at a time, so buy the best you can find.

There are a couple of tweaks you can do according to taste. Sometimes I’ll add a whole star anise and/or half a stick of cinnamon for an extra level of flavour or, if I’m feeling really adventurous, a sprig of flowering thyme from the garden, but it’s up to you.

It’s difficult to make a small batch of these so the quantities shown will be enough for dessert as well as having some left over for a great addition to breakfast!

Cheat! I’ve used tinned apricots before with very little difference, so these are always a useful backup if apricots aren’t in season. If using, do everything except the actual cooking part or they’ll become mushy, just warm them through.


  • punnet of apricots, halved & stoned
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 100g unrefined golden castor sugar
  • 35g unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp hot water
  • 1 tsp Orange-flower water, or Rose-water
  • Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche
  • small handful of chopped pistachio nuts (optional)


  1. Add the butter to a pan & gently warm to melt, then the water & sugar & stir until completely dissolved
  2. Split the vanilla pod* & scrape out the seeds; add to the sugar & butter syrup
  3. Add the apricots & stir everything together well to coat in the syrup
  4. Cover & gently cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but not mushy; this should take 10-12 minutes depending on how ripe the fruit is
  5. Turn off the heat, add the Orange-flower water & gently stir
  6. Serve with a dollop of thick Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche, top with the pistachio nuts if using

*Don’t throw the empty vanilla pod away – add it to a jar of sugar & allow the flavour to permeate for a couple of weeks

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