Roasted Apricots With Maple Syrup And Lemon-Scented Cream
Although somewhat squashy-looking and wrinkled (rustic is probably a kinder word!) these apricots and their juices have a terrific, sharp/sweet flavour which I love. They take only a few minutes to put together to roast, the lemon cream is easy as pie to make, and the almonds can be grilled well ahead of time, so they make a lovely dessert for hot summer evenings.
By all means use homemade lemon curd if you can, however I have to admit that more often than not I buy mine from one of our local markets as invariably there is a stall with a few jars of daffodil-yellow curd nestled in amongst the marmalades and pickles. I find it’s awfully useful to have on hand and lovely folded through whipped cream as in this recipe. However, if you don’t have any, don’t worry, just serve the apricots with a scoop of good vanilla bean ice cream or a dollop of rich cream.
By the way, my mum always referred to lemon curd as lemon ‘butter’ and I tend to call it this too, however more often than not I see it referred to as lemon curd so I thought it best to use that term here.
Preheat your oven to 220C.
Wash and dry the apricots. Use a sharp knife to cut them in half right through to the stone. Hold each half in your hands and twist them in the opposite directions to pull them apart then remove and discard the stone.
Sit the apricots, cut-side-up, in a single layer in a shallow ceramic oven dish or gratin dish so they fit snugly. Stir the maple syrup and vanilla together then drizzle this mixture evenly over the apricots. Put the dish in the oven and roast the apricots for 15 minutes or so until they’re tender – the syrup and juices will bubble around the edges of the dish. To check if they’re ready, insert a fine metal skewer into one – it should slip in easily.
Remove them from the oven and leave them to cool in the dish. I must admit I like to serve them barely warm or at room temperature, when they’re at their most luscious, however they keep very well in the fridge in a tightly sealed container for up to a week, although they tend to become softer and a little more fragile to handle over time.
For the almonds, preheat an overhead grill to med/high. Spread the almonds as best you can in a single layer on a foil-lined oven tray. Sift the icing sugar evenly over the top. Run the almonds under the grill, stirring them gently every now and then, and watching them closely until they’re pale golden (the sugar will only caramelise in patches and mainly remain white.) When they’re ready, remove them from the oven and let them cool and crisp up on the tray. Store them in tightly sealed jar until you need them (they keep well for a couple of days and are really delicious sprinkled over all sorts of things – cakes, ice cream or something as simple as a bowl of fresh fruit salad.)
Just before serving the apricots, whip the cream softly and fold in the lemon curd, adding a bit more or less to taste. To serve, spoon 3 or 4 apricot halves each onto shallow plates, drizzle some of the syrupy juices over the top, dollop lemon cream on the side, then finish with a scattering of almonds. A few crisp, almond wafer biscuits are particularly good served with them.