The cassia buds in the syrup are the dried, unopened flowers from trees that produce cinnamon from their bark. They have a peppery flavor and are available in specialty-food stores or by mail order. A crushed cinnamon stick is an acceptable substitute.
If you peaches don't taste especially sweet, sprinkle the wedges with a tablespoon or two of sugar; assemble the dessert, spooning the juices over the peaches.
1 bottle (750 ml) rich red wine, such as Chianti or Barbera
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
1/2 teaspoon allspice berries, coarsely crushed
8 cassia buds or one 4-inch cinnamon stick, crushed
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 ripe peaches, peeled and cut into 8 wedges each
1 pint vanilla ice cream
How to Make It
In a medium saucepan, combine the wine, sugar, vanilla bean, peppercorns, allspice, cassia and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring once or twice, until reduced to 1 cup, about 25 minutes. Remove the syrup from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Strain and let cool to room temperature; if the syrup is too thick, stir in a few tablespoons of cold water.
Scoop the ice cream into individual bowls and top with the peach wedges. Drizzle each dessert with a few tablespoons of wine syrup and serve.
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