These brandied apricots make brilliant gifts and should keep for up to a year. Add some ribbon and a personalised tag for a thoughtful Christmas gift or Secret Santa present.
Cover the apricots with the water and sugar and leave to soak overnight. Put into a saucepan with the orange peel and star anise. Bring up to a simmer, cook for a few minutes, then spoon the apricots into sterilised jars.
Continue simmering the syrup for 3-4 mins until lightly thickened. Add the brandy, then pour over the fruit. Put on the lids to the jars and ideally leave for a few weeks to mellow.
To use, purée some of the apricots with a little of the syrup, and serve with the meringues, some yoghurt, ice cream or ricotta.
500g dried apricots
1½ cups water
1 cup caster sugar
3 star anise
a few strips of mixed peel
1 cup brandy