Thursday, August 19, 2010

Poached Apricots w/Vanilla Bean & Honey

This recipe was a happy accident. Honestly, I was trying out a recipe I had read about in a new cookbook, where the author stated, "this is one of my favorite cakes, I'd consider moving just to be in an area with a longer apricot season for this cake". With a statement such as this, how could I resist making the cornmeal crunch cake?

Turns out, it was not even worth writing about. As I stood there scraping the pot of the last little bits of apricot vanilla bean goodness (how else would I console myself over the waste of 2 pounds of fabulous apricots?) , I realized the filling and syrup was so perfectly amazing I could forgive the author her misguided and erroneous boast.  For the record, I can salvage just about anything... but gravel would have been a better vehicle for my lovely apricots.  (** In all fairness, I might have used a local cornmeal that was too coarsely ground to do this cake justice... I will try again, as I have received several emails indicating the cake is wonderful.. so until then, please forgive my ramblings..I meant them at the time, but I humbly admit I may be wrong**)

The photo shows the cake with large slices of poached fruit on top,  and for photo purposes they are barely dipped in the syrup.  When you make this at home, it will look more like a jam with large soft pieces of fruit. Notice the golden glaze with the specks of vanilla bean...yummm! As for the cake...blleeeckk! (see note above, ;-))

The recipe we used at the market used unpeeled, chopped fruit. I prefer a combination of ripe, barely ripe, and a few slightly underripe apricots when I cook fruit, because it adds a little tartness and depth of flavor to your fruit jams/syrups.

Side Note:  Save the pits from your apricots, and pry (I used a hammer, softly) the pits open and retrieve the small almond shaped seed from inside.  In many cultures the seeds are used as a flavor agent for cookies, jams and extracts. Think Amaretto!  I boil the seeds for 20 minutes,  toast in the oven and grate them with a microplane and add them to my recipes.   I do need to include a warning:  Apricot seeds in large quantities are reported to be toxic. Please do research if you have any concerns.

Poached Apricots w/Vanilla Bean & Honey
(This is more of a fruity syrup)

2 lbs. fresh apricots, washed, pitted and chopped 
1 Tablespoon Lemon juice
3 cups water
2/3 cup sugar**
1/3 cup honey
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Toss chopped apricots with lemon juice and set aside. Combine water, sugar, honey and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan and bring mixture to a boil, and the sugar is dissolved. Continue to boil for 3-4 minutes then add the apricots. Lower the heat to medium and simmer for approximately 8-10 minutes.  Remove mixture from heat and cool. Store in a clean jar in the fridge and use as a topping for everything!  Enjoy!

Note: I like to reserve some fruit to add at the last minute to ensure I have large pieces. Or, gently slide sliced apricots into the simmering mixture for a few minutes, remove and let them cool for later use.  
Lastly, the simmering fruit will produce a little bit of scum on the top.  You may either skim it off with a spoon or add a 1/4 teaspoon of butter the the mixture and it should keep the scum to a minimum.

Peaches and plums are also excellent substitutions!

We will be at the Longmont Farmer's Market this weekend, so...
See you at the Market!!

Chef Deb


Katie said...

That is too bad that the recipe did not turn out for you. I made it from the same cookbook a week ago and it was a huge hit. You have to be very careful with the sauce though, as I found out when making a pomegranate sauce from the same cookbook (it took several days of soaking to clean that pot!). Perhaps the apricots are different here in Ontario than where you live. Best Wishes

Chef Deb T said...


Let me clarify... the apricot recipe was superb! Our local apricots are also fabulous. All the other recipes I tried in this book have turned out AMAZING!. I should probably say...the CAKE itself was not that good. But I need to point out that I used a locally grown and ground polenta. The polenta was extremely coarse, and I suspect this may be the reason I was not happy with the cake. In all due fairness to the author, I will correct my blog to indicate where I think the recipe, for me, went wrong.

While I have culinary and pastry training, I am not by any means perfect in everything I execute, and I am so happy the recipe worked for you. I WILL attempt this recipe again, with a non local corn meal....

Thanks for your post, I really appreciate the comment. I will try this again, but with peaches, as they are in season right now.

Have a fabulous day Katie!

Chef Deb