Apricots: sweet bundles of summer sunshine or musty, orange cotton wool balls? I must say I've never been much of a fan. The rattling stone and powdery flesh of an apricot that's past its best is a depressing thing indeed. Even the most perfect, honeyed specimen looses out to plums and peaches in my fruit bowl.
Apricot will always find a friend in almonds, and after finding a fabulously easy recipe for almond ice cream in Sam and Eddie Hart's 'Modern Spanish Cooking' I knew it was time to give the fuzzy fruit another chance. While I can't say that I'm a complete convert, the little golden globes, at the height of ripeness, made a surprisingly sour foil for the gentle sweetness of the ice cream. Any other stone fruit, or a few fresh raspberries or blackberries, would make a decent substitution for the apricots.
This ice cream is very simple to make, and has a wonderfully subtle, clean, milky flavour. The lack of cream or eggs really lets the toasted nuts shine through. It does seem freeze to very hard, so give it a good few minutes out of the freezer before serving.
Almond Ice Cream
200g Blanched almonds
600ml Full fat milk
100g Caster sugar
Pre-heat oven to 180c and toast almond on a baking tray for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden.
Put almonds, milk, sugar and water into a large saucepan and heat until sugar has dissolved.
Bring mixture to the boil, then remove from heat and allow to cool.
Blend cooled mixture thoroughly.
Sieve mixture and add 50g of the ground almonds back into the sieved liquid for texture (I added a little more to mine)
Place mixture in fridge to chill.
Churn chilled mixture in an ice cream maker until frozen.
Apricots, two or three per person
Sugar syrup, to cover (1:1 sugar to water, brown is good)
1 tsp Vanilla
Amaretto (or other liqueur) to taste
Cut apricots in half and remove stones.
Place sugar syrup in pan, add fruit and vanilla and gently cook for 5-10 minutes, until fruit is soft.
Remove fruit with a slotted spoon, add liqueur and boil to reduce to a syrupy consistency.
Strain syrup and add to fruit.
Serve warm or chilled with ice cream above, cream or yogurt.