Julia Busuttil Nishimura's panettone with grilled peaches and spiced creme anglaise

The spiced custard can be served warm or cold.
The spiced custard can be served warm or cold. Photo: William Meppem

This is the perfect festive dessert – it's simple, light and summery yet with all of the flavours of Christmas. The creme anglaise is infused with spices and spiked with pedro ximenez sherry, which is sweet and heady and tastes of dried fruit – it's like Christmas pudding in custard form. The peaches can be swapped for nectarines or plums, or even a scattering of fresh raspberries or cherries. Be sure to buy a good-quality panettone and you're already halfway there.

Ingredients

750g panettone, cut into 8 wedges

Spiced creme anglaise

300ml full-cream milk

300ml pure cream

1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped

strip of orange peel

4 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick

2 whole allspice

8 egg yolks

50g brown sugar

50g caster sugar

2 tbsp pedro ximenez sherry

¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

¼ tsp mixed spice

Grilled peaches

8 yellow peaches, halved and stone removed

1½ tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

1 tbsp brown sugar

Method

1. To make creme anglaise, place the milk and cream in a medium saucepan, along with the vanilla pod, seeds, orange peel, cloves, cinnamon stick and allspice. Warm over a medium heat, being careful that it doesn't reach a boil.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, sherry, nutmeg and mixed spice in a large bowl. Pour the hot cream mixture into the yolk mixture, a little at a time to begin with, whisking continuously until combined. Return the mixture to a clean pan and stir over a very low heat for about 7-8 minutes or until it has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Strain the custard into a bowl and set the bowl onto ice to immediately cool it down, whisking every few minutes until cool. Cover with cling film to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until ready to use. If you want to serve the creme anglaise warm, gently reheat it in a heat-proof bowl sitting over a pot of simmering water.

3. Heat a grill plate or pan over a high heat and toast the panettone wedges on both sides until lightly golden (about 1 minute). Set aside.

4. Grease the same grill with ½ tablespoon of the butter and, when foaming, add the peach halves, cut side down. Grill for 3-4 minutes or until deeply caramelised. Turn over and dot with the brown sugar and remaining butter. Grill for another 2-3 minutes or until they are beginning to collapse. The timing will depend on how ripe the peaches are.

5. Serve each toasted panettone wedge with two peach halves and a generous drizzle of spiced creme anglaise.

The wine match
House of Arras, 2006 EJ Carr Late Disgorged

Derwent Valley/East Coast, Tasmania, $265, 12.5 per cent alcohol

When the cork was popped on the ninth consecutive release of winemaker Ed Carr's sophisticated fizz, it wowed the wine buffs. The shapeshifting flavours tiptoe between Yo Yo Biscuit, lemon tart, and delicate bead that tickles the senses. She's quite the elegant dame, largely thanks to ageing on lees in tirage for 14 years (which results in layers of intense secondary characters). Go on, splash out on a limited release. A dessert such as this demands it. bayoffireswines.com.au

The wild card
Artwine Yes Minister Fortified Fiano

Adelaide Hills, SA, $45, 17.5 per cent alcohol

When Artwine's Judy and Glen Kelly decided to add a botrytis or dessert wine to their alternative variety arsenal, they opted to "play" with a fortified fiano. The couple believes Yes Minister to be the first fortified fiano ever made – globally. It is a refreshing way to end a long meal thanks to floral fiano aromatics, and intriguing texture and mouthfeel. It's honey sweet but not too over the top, which makes it a wise dessert option. Chill it in the fridge or pour it over ice. artwine.com.au

This recipe features in our Australian Christmas menu.