Put water on to boil for the peaches. Pour 150ml water into a large saucepan and add ½ cup caster sugar, star anise, cinnamon, chilli and ginger. Stir over moderate heat until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil.
Slice off 3 strips lemon rind, add to the sugar syrup, reduce the heat and simmer.
Halve the peaches and discard the stones. Put the halves into a bowl, cover with boiling water, leave for 1–2 minutes, then drain and peel. Cut each half into 4–6 slices and add to the syrup.
Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 4–5 minutes, or until just softened. Meanwhile, squeeze the juice from the lemon.
Stir the remaining caster sugar into the mascarpone.
Remove the spiced peaches from the heat and add the lemon juice. Transfer to individual dishes and serve, warm or cold, with a little syrup and the mascarpone.
When served warm, this dessert makes an excellent accompaniment to pancakes, waffles or ice cream.