Tag Archives: apricot

Make A Wish…

It’s birthday time again!

This past weekend the family celebrated Smidget’s birthday. For the special occasion, I wanted to make something tasty and different for dessert. We had some apricots that needed to be eaten up, and since they are Smidget’s favorite, I figured it would be great to have a cake that used the fresh flavor of the apricots. Remember that time I made the plum cake that was a Dorie Greenspan recipe? Well, that’s just what I did again, but this time with apricots!

Dorie does say in her cookbook that other stone fruits can be used instead and even gives some directions on her favorite combinations of fruits and spices. Since the plum cake was such a success, I decided to barely mess with the perfection of Dorie’s recipe. One of my favorite parts about the cake was the subtle hint of spice that came from the cardamom. Dorie recommends using cinnamon with the apricots, but I knew it was all about the cardamom.

Needless to say, it was delicious. The cake was moist and sweet, with that hint of spice thrown in. The apricots that delicately dimpled the top were sweet, juicy, and just a tad tart in the best possible way that apricots are. Instead of just leaving the cake un-topped like I had previously, I took some of the mascarpone cheese we had (anybody else tempted by the cheese’s recent appearance on the shelves at warehouse stores?) and whipped it together with a hint of honey for sweetness, creating a delectable and not-too-sweet frosting.

The birthday went well, Smidget seemed to really enjoy the day and her present load. I’m actually listening to one of her presents right now…SMASH soundtrack, anyone? But it was the cake that really ended the whole day on a high note. Plus, with the fresh fruit and cheese and honey topping, it was actually a rather healthy cake! At least that’s what I’ll keep telling myself.

Dimply Apricot Cake with Mascarpone ‘Frosting’

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower
Grated zest of one orange
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 fresh, ripe apricots, halved and pitted

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, dust the pan with flour, tap out the excess, and put the pan on a baking sheet.
2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom together.
3. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer in a large bowl), beat the butter at medium speed until soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. On medium speed, beat in the oil, orange zest, and vanilla. The batter will look very light and smooth, almost satiny. Reduce the mixer to low-speed and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.
4. Run a spatula around the bowl and under the batter, just to make sure there are no dry spots, then scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Arrange the apricots cut side up in the batter, jiggling the apricots a tad just so they settle comfortably into the batter.
5. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is honey brown and puffed around the apricots and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 15 minutes – during which time the apricots’ juice will return to the fruit – then run the knife around the sides of the pan and un-mold the cake. Invert and cool right side up.

Recipe adapted from: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours

 

Mascarpone ‘Frosting’

6 oz. Mascarpone cheese
1 Tbsp. honey
Splash (about 1 tsp.) of whipping cream

1. Whisk together the Mascarpone cheese and honey, adding a splash of whipping cream to smooth and loosen the cheese. Whisk until thoroughly combined and reached desired consistency and flavor.

Springtime

Yesterday was the official start of the season of spring, which means (at least according to recent TV commercials) it’s also the start of grilling season!

What? What do you mean our grill doesn’t look ready? What makes you say that? Is it the bit of snow that is still on that little tray? Or the grill scraper that is still partially buried? Oh. I see. It’s all the snow that is still piled up all over the deck and around the grill that makes it so we can’t even get to it, never mind use it. You know, you may have something there.

Ok, so moving on then, I bet that wonderful raspberry bush we have is looking wonderful and like it can’t wait to start sporting little red berries as the long, warm, sunny days arrive.

No?

Check out the snow build up on our neighbor’s little shed there too, pretty cool huh?

Alright, so while us Alaskans (at least my other foodie friends and I) cry a little every time the warm weather is mentioned in the lower 48 and every time we see something online, or on TV, or in the newspaper, or hear something on the radio about spring being here, that doesn’t mean we can’t begin our anticipation of warmer, brighter days ahead.

Although, we still want that record snow fall. Three more inches of snow, then spring. Like, spring instantaneously. Thanks.

Until then, just delve into these tasty Apricot-Oatmeal Cookies for a bit of a sunny and warm feeling.

Apricot-Oatmeal Cookies

8oz (2 sticks) butter
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups diced dried apricots

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare two baking sheets with either parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
In medium bowl or stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla to butter and sugars.
In another medium bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda, and salt.
Mix dry ingredients into the wet until just combined.
Add in diced dried apricots, mix until apricots are dispersed through dough.
Measure out dough by tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until nicely browned on the bottom and edges.
Let cool on wire rack.

Makes about 4 doz smallish cookies.

Dig in and enjoy a hint of spring/summer!