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Blenheim Apricots

Mike Cirone of See Canyon Farms is now back at the farmer's market.  He has the very seasonal and popular Blenheim apricots.

Roxana Jullapat is the pastry chef at Ammo Cafe in Hollywood.  She is roasting Blenheims with orange blossom honey.  

Honey-Roasted Apricots

At Ammo they like to roast these apricots in the wood-burning oven, which typically runs between 650 to 800ºF. At home, pre heat the oven at 450ºF and don't be afraid of letting the apricots roast until almost charred.

Serves 6 to 8

1 cup orange juice
1 cup white wine (we favor sweeter varietals such as Riesling)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp whole cloves
12 ripen apricots, halved

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and pre heat the oven to 450ºF.

Combine the orange juice, white wine, sugar, honey, cinnamon stick and cloves in a non-reactive pot and bring up to a boil over medium to high heat. Reduce the heat and let it reduce for 3 minutes.

Arrange the apricot halves in a non-reactive baking dish flesh side up, close to one another. Pour the hot orange juice mixture over then.

Roast the apricots for 8 to 10 minutes, remove from the oven, baste them with the liquid and roast for another 8 to 10 minutes or until the apricots cook till very soft and start to "char" on top.

Let the apricots cool for at least 10 minutes and remove the cinnamon stick and cloves. Serve cold or warm over ice cream, spooning a bit of the roasting liquid all over.

Notes: Make a quick apricot jam for the "Frozen Apricot Terrine" by puréeing the honey-roasted apricots.


Frozen Apricot Terrine

The great advantage of this dessert is that it can be prepared days in advance. The puckery apricots are well suited for this creamy concoction. Slice while still frozen and serve it right away or just let it temper a bit and serve it as a velvety mousse. 

Serves 6 to 8             

1/4 cup crème fraîche
1 cup heavy cream
2 egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup apricot purée (look at the "Honey Roasted Apricots" recipe)

Line a 4 1/2 by 8 1/2-inch loaf pan with plastic film, leaving extra plastic hanging from the sides of the pan to cover the terrine once it's finished.

Whisk together the crème fraîche and cream by hand or in the electric mixer until medium peaks form.

In the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the whites and the sugar until firm.

Gently fold the apricot jam and the whipped cream into the whites.

Fill the prepared loaf pan with the mixture, tap on the table to remove bubbles, wrap with the excess plastic film and let it set in the freezer overnight. Before serving, invert the loaf pan onto a cutting board and pull the plastic until the terrine comes out. Cut into 3/4-inch slices and serve.

Optional: Fold crushed amaretti into the creamy mixture just before filling the loaf pan for a dessert with crunchy texture.

Noyau Ice Cream  

"Noyau" (or the plural "noyaux") refers to the kernel inside the pits of apricots and is regarded for its subtle almond-like flavor. To extract the noyaux, roast the pits for 10 minutes at 350ºF and crack them open with a mallet or nutcracker. The noyaux must be heated to deteriorate an enzyme that turns toxic when it comes in contact with water. To be completely safe, cook the noyaux in the cream and milk mixture until it comes to a full boil.

Makes 2 quarts

3 cups whole milk
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup noyaux
12 egg yolks

Combine the milk, heavy cream, sugar, honey and noyaux in a non-reactive pot and bring up to a full boil.

While the liquids are on the stove, place the egg yolks in a mixing bowl and whisk for a minute.

Temper the egg yolks with the hot mixture by adding a cup at a time while whisking vigorously, until all the mixture has been added.

Strain the mixture into a separate container using a fine mesh sieve. Chill the mixture over a bowl of ice.

Run the mixture in your ice cream machine following the manufacturer's instructions.

Notes: If you would like to accentuate the almond flavor in the ice cream, add 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract to the ice cream base.