So Many Apricots…Part I

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My obsession with apricots reaches a fever pitch about this time every year.  Apricots from warmer parts of the country start to flood the warehouse stores here in the Northeast. So, on a recent trip to Costco, I gifted myself a flat of darling pinky, peachy, fading to that glorious luminous orange color stone fruit. I was determined that they would not turn to a slag heap in the fridge, where I stashed them when I thought they were ripe.

I wanted to make a tarte, but decided to add a twist by making a frangipane filling versus the traditional custard. Frangipane is a stiffer, almond based filling, popular in Europe, especially in tartes with berries. Frangipane is a shade under marzipan in it’s consistency. More flow than mold consistency.  I hadn’t had it in a million years, and faced with a gloomy but humid outside/air conditioned inside Saturday afternoon, I knew I could run the oven for a while without totally heating the house beyond recovery. The tarte starts with a short crust, easily formed in your food processor with flour, sugar ( a little), salt, ice water and very, very cold butter cut into teeny, tiny pieces. Blend in the food processor until the dough is shaggy and turn it out onto a floured board. Just knead it a bit until you can form a dough, then flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic and stick in the fridge to keep while you make the frangipane. I had enough dough to fill a traditional  removable bottom tarte pan, plus my two personal size pans that I bought in France. Remember only roll out the dough and fill the pan once the dough is chilled and the frangipane is ready to go.

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You can use slivered almonds to make the base of this sticky cream substance but because I keep it in the house for macarons, I used almond flour ( just ground up almonds). So a lot of the work was already done. To the almonds you will add sugar, salt, egg yolks, butter and vanilla and almond extract. Because I was making an apricot tarte, I used apricot extract to bump up the fruit flavor.

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Roll out your crust and trim the edge. Using a fork, pierce the dough on the bottom. Freeze for ten minutes while you preheat the oven.

MAJOR BAKING SECRET ABOUT TO BE REVEALED!  I recently learned that if you freeze a pie shell or tarte dough before baking, the dough will not shrink and pull away from the pan when blind baking! It’s magic!

Anyway, blind bake the frozen or deeply chilled shell for about 12 minutes until it’s just set. Fill with the frangipane.

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Next , I cut the apricots into twelves, each half had 6 slices. This allows them to lay more evenly on the frangipane. I probably could have snuggled a few more pieces in but decided to leave well enough alone. Sprinkle the top with sugar and bake at 425° for about 40 minutes or until the frangipane rises a little and turns a little bit brown. Let cool completely before you slice and you can add fresh whipped cream on top for a real treat.

 

 

Identity Crisis

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Ah, they only look like muffins! In real life they are scones…well sort of. At least that’s how it started.

I had used a box mix last year for apricot scones and although I have to tell you they were very good, I just didn’t think the box was worth $8 when I have all the ingredients in my pantry, including apricots and can put them together for less than a quarter of the price. So, anyway….

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Cold butter, cut up small and flour equals a short dough that is very versatile for scones etc.

Add milk and melted butter and apricots and at the very end, I thought, why not try to cream this out a little, so I added about a tablespoon of mascarpone cheese, the cream cheese of Italy.  The dough was a little wetter than anticipated so instead of being able to roll it and then use a biscuit cutter, I would up using a muffin tin to bake. End result, scones disguised as muffins. Or muffins disguised as scones…You’ll have to decide!

All this…

 
For This…

 

I had some leftover ANGELCOTS and a few native apricots along with some raspberries and didn’t want to fuss making jam or chutney. So I produced a pile of pots and pans making fruit curd…so incredibly yummy!

  

I washed and sorted the fruits and pitted the stone fruits. Then I dumped them into my enameled le Creuset and put it on low heat.


I cooked the fruit down until very soft and pulpy.
  
    

Then into the trusty food mill. It reduces everything down and separates the skin. Like a manual juice press…


I was left with this, still has some seeds in it. 


So I put it through another fine sieve and put it back in the pot and added a 1/2 cup sugar. Stirred till thick and glossy.


Meanwhile back on the stove I had whisked 2 egg yolks and one whole egg together in a bowl and tempered them with about 2 tablespoons of the hot fruit drizzled in a little at a time.


I put the eggs into my copper saucepan and whisked in the remainder if the fruit.

Finally, I whisked in 4 tablespoons of butter and a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla paste.

I let it cook until thick. If it coats the back of a spoon and you can leave a track in it with your finger, you know it’s done!

I just had to lick the spoon. The curd is sweet and silky and I’m saving this for our seaside cottage rental next week! Can’t wait to try it on a scone!

Easy as Pie…

 
Well, more like a big turnover! I had a pie crust sheet that I wanted to use up along with a couple/three, almost over the edge apricots .

   
 

I also had some apricot glaze from some long ago pastry that I mixed with ricotta and cinnamon sugar ( just a bit…)

   
 

I spread the cheese mixture in middle of the dough an topped with the sliced apricots. Then I folded the dough over on itself and put some steam slits in the top.

   
   

Bake in a 375 oven for about 45 minutes. I sprinkled a little more cinnamon sugar on after serving!