The craze already begins in May when the first Swiss rhubarb stems (I know, it is a vegetable, but I mostly prepare it just like a fruit - that's how I like it best) and strawberries are available, then at the end of June they slowly get replaced by apricots, peaches, nectarines as well as all kinds of berries (gooseberries, redcurrants, raspberries, blackberries, etc...) and, finally in August, after an endless and interminable year of lusting, the king of all stone fruits makes it's appearance, my beloved Italian plum. Not forgetting that not long after, they are very closely followed by raisins and apples (and so on)...
Ah, Nature is indisputably plentiful and perfect! It never fails to make our senses work and months after month, it incessantly offers a vast array of wonderful produces, no matter the time of the year. Why would we want to buy vegetables or fruits that are not seasonal, stuffed with chemicals, were grown in non-humane ways, have flown miles to reach us, thus contributed to dirtying the air we breathe, are overpriced and taste like nothing when we have the opportunity to help our farmers, to enjoy organic or chemical-free goods, to treat our tastebuds rightfully, to not spoil our precious planet, our to and to follow the rythm of the seasons without letting ourselves get overwhelmed by stupid and incoherent needs?
You see, I am getting sick and tired of seeing people who crave the wrong food at the wrong moment, who are acutely detached from the Earth that they don't know if what they buy is grown in "laboratories" or naturally in fields, who think that it is normal to be able to find what they want when they want and who don't give damn about their despicable attitude or the effect it can have on their lives!
The beauty of consuming goods that were cultivated sustainably and in harmony with the environment is that you never get bored with them as those produces aren't generally available all the time, hence you can be assured that there's always a rotation. In that way, you look even more forward to eating those greengrocery items because you had to wait for so long in order to finally be able to savor them. The unbearable longing as well as the extreme yearning induced by the unfathomable break, the sheer joy that you feel when you know that a produce will soon be sold again and the exhilarating thrill you experience while taking your first bite of that highly anticipated vegetable or fruit is just incomparable and has to be cherished. Deprivation helps us appreciate them to a greater extend and not take things for granted. Fulfillment doesn't come through spoiltness...
Consequently, when I saw the very first Swiss apricots from Valais (some of the world's finest apricots), I was overcome with immense happiness. After having indulged in rhubarb for the past weeks, those amazingly fragrant, gorgeously juicy and vibrantly colored stone fruits offered a very welcome change.
Since my aim was to highlight their delightful sourness that is beautifully counterbalanced by their incredible nectarousness, which are both coupled with breathtakingly musky and heady aromas, I chose to make a refined North-African and Provence inspired dessert with that sun-engorged treat.
I searched online for quite a while before I stumbled upon what I was looking for. "Baked Apricots Stuffed With Almond Paste" it was going to be. Of course, there was no way I would prepare my round and orange furry little babies without making a few adaptations to the original recipe. I always have to add a personal touch to everything and I am constantly compelled to increase quantities as I'm afraid my food will not be adequably palatable. It is a bit of an illness. My nickname could well be "Madame Never Enough".
I kept the same amount of filling, but I decided to reduce the number of fruits as well as to incorporate a few drops extra almond essence and orange blossom water to the paste and for a more complex flavor, I thought it would be interesting to delicately infuse the syrup with a little lavender flower. An excellent decision!
The unique combination of tart apricots, sweet almond paste, pungent distilled water, marzipan-tasting almond essence and balmy dried lavender flowers is just out of this world. It results in an ambrosial and refined dessert which will get you hooked. Impossible to resist to such an exquisite delicacy...
This is my entry for Monthly Mingle hosted by Sukaina of the lovely blog "Sips And Spoonfuls". The theme is "Stone Fruits".
~ Baked Apricots Stuffed With Almond Paste ~
Recipe adapted from "Dessert.net.au".
Ingredients For The "Syrup":
75g (1/2 Cup) Castor sugar
3 Tbs Lemon juice
1/3 Tsp Dried lavender flowers
300ml (1 1/4 Cup) Water
Ingredients For The "Stuffed Apricots":
120g (1 Cup) Finely ground almonds
50g (1/2 Cup) Powder/icing sugar
45g (3 Tbs) Melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 Tsp Orange blossom water
1 Tsp Almond essence/extract
1 1/2 Tsp Water
1 Pinch Fine sea salt
800g Fresh apricots, washed
Method For The "Syrup":
1. Place the sugar, lemon juice, lavender flowers and water in a medium-small saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved, then let simmer for 5-10 minutes, until you get a thin sugar syrup.
2. Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F).
Method For The "Stuffed Apricots":
3. In a blender, mix together the ground almonds with the icing sugar until the mixture is very fine, then add the butter, orange blossom water, almond essence, water and salt. Pulse until you get a smooth and homogenous paste ressembling marzipan.
3. Make a slit in the flesh of each apricot and remove the stones.
4. Shape the almond paste into small balls and press one of them into the cavity of each apricot. 5. Arrange the stuffed apricots in a shallow ovenproof dish that you have previously buttered/greased and carefully pour the sugar syrup over them.
6. Cover with aluminium foil and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
7. Plate the apricots and sprinkle with a little syrup from the baking dish.
Both the lavender flowers and the orange blossom water are optional.
You can also cut the apricots in half, stuff each half with almond paste and bake the halves, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature with a cup of tea or coffee, for dessert or teatime.
Recette adaptée du site "Dessert.net.au".
Pour 4 personnes.
Ingrédients Pour Le "Sirop":
75g de Sucre cristallisé
3 CS de Jus de citron
1/3 de CC de Lavande séchée
Ingrédients Pour Les "Abricots Fourrés":
120g d'Amandes en poudre (fine)
50g de Sucre en poudre
45g de Beurre non-salé, fondu
1 1/2 CC d'Eau de fleur d'oranger
1 CC d'Essence/extrait d'amandes amères
1 1/2 CC d'Eau
1 Pincée de Sel de mer fin
800g d'Abricots frais, lavés
Méthode Pour Le "Sirop":
1. Mettre le sucre, le jus de citron, les fleurs de lavande et l'eau dans une petite casserole. Porter à ébullition, tout en mélangeant occasionnellement, jusqu'à ce que le sucre soit dissout, puis laisser frémir pendant 5-10 minutes, jusqu'à obtention d'un sirop assez liquide.
2. Préchauffer le four à 180° C.
Méthode Pour Les "Abricots Fourrés":
3. Dans votre mixer/blender, mettre les amandes moulues et le sucre, puis mixer jusqu'à obtention d'une poudre très fine. Ajouter le beurre, l'eau de fleur d'oranger, l'essence d'amandes amères, l'eau et le sel, puis bien mixer afin d'obtenir une pâte homogène ressemblant a du massepain.
3. Découper une fente verticale dans chaque abricot et retirer les noyaux.
4. Former de petites boules avec la pâte d'amandes et remplir les cavités avec.
5. Mettre les abricots dans un plat à gratin beurré et verser un peu de sirop sur chaque fruit.
6. Recouvrir avec une feuille d'aluminium et cuire au four pendant 25-30 minutes.
7. Arranger les abricots sur une assiette et verser le jus de cuisson par dessus.
Les fleurs de lavande et l'esu de fleur d'oranger sont facultatifs.
Vous pouvez aussi couper les abricots en deux, les garnir avec la pâte d'amande et les cuire pendant 25-30 minutes, sans les couvrir.
Idées de présentation:
Servir pour le dessert ou pour les quatre heures, chaud ou à température ambiante et accompagner d'une tasse de thé ou de café.