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These fragrant apricots are so useful, I make big batches of them to give as gifts and to use for my own entertaining. They are delicious with drained whole milk yogurt, ice cream or creme fraiche make an excellent filling for tarts and turnovers, or accompaniment to plain cakes, with some whipped cream. They are also spectacular roasted and served with crème fraiche (see recipe). I like to use California apricots because they have more intense flavor and delicate texture than Turkish ones.
To give as gifts, package in clean dry jars. I like to affix a handwritten label by ribbon with “Dried Apricots in Cardamom Syrup”, the ingredients, and a note to “Please refrigerate”. (“Very important as they are not heat canned”.) I also give a printed copy of the recipe for Roasted Dried Apricots with Cardamom.
I always bundle gift jars of these apricots with this recipe.
Roasted Dried Apricots
Preheat the oven to 350°F. (The oven temperature is not critical: you can roast them along with other dishes at higher temperatures). Drain the apricots and arrange them in a single layer in a buttered dish, dot with butter, sprinkle with sugar. Roast until the bottom of the apricots are caramelized and the bottom of the pan looks like it is beginning to burn, about 30 minutes. Cool the pan slightly and place right on the table, for your guests to serve themselves (they will delight in peeling them out of the pan with their fingers).
Dried Apricots in Cardamom Syrup
- 5 cups water
- 1 cup sugar, or more to taste
- 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, to taste
- 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
- 15 cardamom pods, preferably green
- 1 1/2 pound California apricots
1. In a medium nonreactive saucepan, combine the water, sugar, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, half the cardamom pods and the vanilla bean, seeds scraped out and added with the bean. Crack open the remaining cardamom pods and add the black seeds to the pan. Bring to a boil over moderately high heat, then simmer 5 minutes.
2. Reduce the heat, add the apricots and the cook at a bare simmer — do not boil — for exactly five minutes. Remove from the heat and let the apricots sit, uncovered, to continue plumping for 4 or 5 hours. Taste the syrup and add additional lemon juice if necessary. Transfer to clean dry jars and refrigerate. If you can, let the apricots “cure” several days before servings, although it is not essential. The syrup will thicken over time; add a little water to thin if necessary.