Cook in the Moment: Apricot Frangipane Tart

Apricot Frangipane Tart (c)2012

My favorite part of a meal shared with friends is that magical moment when the dinner plates have been cleared and the table is littered with empty wine bottles and wrinkled cloth napkins. It’s time for dessert! The husband makes a round of coffees and I dig up a bottle of brandy or maybe a tawny port. The tone of conversation at the table changes as we run out of chit chat. It shifts to talk of dreams, worries, and  plans for the future. We listen and share. Time seems to slow down. Though we’re all tired and full, none of us wants the night to end. I grab a stack of dessert plates and everyone gets a slice of Apricot Frangipane Tart. The room is quiet as we savor this sweet end to the meal. It’s a cakey tart with a baked almond batter and a buttery crust. The apricots are a surprise, hidden under the deep-brown caramelized surface. Discovered upon first bite, the tart and juicy fruit is a delight, a reminder that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.


10 Ways Tuesday: Apricot

Caramelized Apricots with Cardamom (c)2012

I’ve got creative recipes for cooking with apricots during summer:

1.  Caramelized Apricots

A few seconds under the broiler results in luscious, juicy apricots- unbelievably good! Cut apricots in half and remove the pits, then place on a baking sheet, cut sides up. Sprinkle with sugar and ground cardamom, then place under the broiler for a couple of minutes, just until the tops are caramelized. Brush the cooked apricots with a jam glaze (heat apricot jam in a saucepan for a minute until liquified). Serve the warm and juicy apricots as a summer dessert with whipped cream or crème fraîche or enjoy the apricots for breakfast with Greek yogurt and toasted nuts.

2.  Apricot Preserves

Rachel Saunders, author of The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, writes, “Nothing quite matches the buttery flavor of a really perfect fresh apricot, and apricots make some of the most delectable preserves.” She includes a recipe for Royal Blenheim Apricot Jam, which uses as little sugar as possible to allow the apricot’s extraordinarily sumptuous flavor to shine. The kernels are removed from a few of the apricot pits and tossed into the jam, infusing it with a hint of almond. She also shares recipes for Apricot-Rose Jam and Apricot-Orange Marmalade.


Ingredient of the Week: Apricot

Colorado Apricots (c)2012

An apricot is not a peach. You won’t be overwhelmed by heady fragrance of an apricot from several feet away. You won’t find your face covered in sticky juice after taking a bite into an apricot’s velvety flesh. If peaches are the blockbuster movie of summer, apricots are the surprise hit indie film at the Cannes Film Festival. It’s quite possible you’ve never tasted a truly ripe apricot. This stone fruit must be allowed to ripen on the tree and quickly picked before it drops to the ground. Ripe apricots do not travel well. Their delicate, velvety flesh bruises easily and quickly begins to deteriorate once picked. The cold supermarket produce isle is an inhospitable place for such a fragile fruit. If you’re looking for sunset-colored apricots with tender, juicy flesh and honeyed, musky flavor, you’ve got to go to the farmer. Road-side stands and farmer’s markets are the place to find apricots worth eating (as opposed to those tasteless, juiceless specimens at the grocery store).