7.22.14 Blenheim Bouquet
A good apricot is an elusive thing. As in the quest for a good man, you have to bite into quite a few before you find a winner. I read recently that Frankenstein farmers are taking the best elements from an apricot and the best from a plum and creating delicious hybrids with names like pluot, plumcot and apriplum. And yet I still want that perfect apricot, with its faintly downy curves, rosy bloom and fudgy flesh. Once in a blue moon, you might come across such a specimen, most often of the Blenheim variety. (Those of you familiar with Penhaligon's fragrances will remember Blenheim Bouquet, a bracing mix of citrus oils, spice and woods that has nothing to do with apricots but provided inspiration for the title of this post.) But somehow even the very best apricot never seems to quite live up to the taste I carry in my sense memory. Which is where roasting comes in...
Starting with the best possible apricots is always a good idea but I think even a passable apricot is rendered sublime when it's roasted into sweet submission. I got these from a local farm and they were not labeled with the variety, but they look like Blenheims or something similar. Choose specimens that are smooth and firm with a little give. If they give off a whiff of perfume, so much the better.
Like repositories of sunlight, apricots seems to emit a golden glow.
As you can see, these were juicy without being overripe. They held their shape beautifully in the heat.
The apricots are halved, dotted with butter, drizzled with honey, sprinkled with brown sugar and set to roast in a hot oven.
The butter, sugar and honey make a lovely sauce that caramelizes and lightly coats the fruit, which turns velvety soft. The roasting intensifies the apricot flavor so it tastes exactly as you imagine it should. In a word, divine.
We ate these at room temperature with a little Greek yogurt into which I whisked a little honey, vanilla and cinnamon. They would also be amazing with vanilla ice cream, crème anglaise or apricot sorbet. Or just on their own. The recipe says it serves six, but three of us polished off the entire plate without any problem. Something to keep in mind when you're making this...tomorrow...!
I'm also excited to share with you a short film that my husband George and I made to promote Glutton for Life. I hope you enjoy it and share it with others. We imagine it will lead to more, and possibly even a series. There's one more in the clip that I'll post soon. I'd really appreciate your input on this - is it something you'd be interested in watching on television or online? xo
- — 12 medium apricots, halved and pitted
- — 2 tablespoons wildflower honey
- — 2 tablespoons salted butter
- — 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Heat the oven to 375º. Arrange the apricots cut side up in a skillet or casserole that fits them snugly. Drizzle the honey over the apricots, place a dot of butter in each cavity and sprinkle the brown sugar on top. Place in the oven.
After 15 minutes, raise the oven temp to 400º. Baste the apricots with the pan juices and do it again every 10 minutes until they caramelize and the liquid reduces about 30-40 minutes more. During the last 10 minutes, flip the apricots over so the tops can also caramelize.