If you ask me, apricot season is far too short. Here in Colorado if you blink you’ll miss it. So when I find apricots in the market I never pass them up. Of course there are always apricots in the grocery stores, hard and bitter rocks that will never ripen to perfection and will ruin any recipe you use them in. But if I find ripe, local, charmingly bruised apricots in the farmers’ market I buy bags and bags of them. We eat them by the dozens and anything we don’t eat raw is transformed into a number of seasonal treats. Perhaps because of their very short season, recipes that centre around apricots have always seemed rather exotic to me, perfumed with the most enticing and seductive spices in the world. Apricot and Chicken Tagine from Morocco, Apricot Blatjang from South Africa, Indian Apricot Pudding with almonds and cardamom. Apricots lend themselves equally well to both sweet and savoury dishes, and while clafoutis isn’t nearly as complex or exotic as the dishes above (at least not in my kitchen, anyway), it is just as comforting and perfectly highlights the flavours that make apricots so unique. I make this more often as a snack for the children and less often as a formal dessert. It is gooey and sweet and creamy and a little like a warm hug when served just after baking. And I should mention that the leftovers, cold from the fridge, make one of my favourite breakfasts.
Clafoutis is a flan-like dessert of fruit baked within a custardy batter. Commonly made with cherries, almost any stone fruit can be used. I especially like it with apricots. Traditionally, when made with cherries, the pits are left in, as they add a certain complexity to the flavour. I find that adding a bit of alcohol – rum, brandy or cognac – produces a similar effect. In this recipe I use rum, along with vanilla and cinnamon, all three of which pair perfectly with ripe apricots. Be sure to use sweet apricots (taste them first!) as the flavour will intensify as the clafoutis bakes.
1 TBSP butter
5 apricots, pitted and quartered
2 TBSP rum
3/4 cup whole milk
1/3 to 1/2 cup brown sugar (depending on how sweet the apricots are)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Pre-heat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Use the butter to generously grease a 9-inch (23 cm) round pie pan. Arrange the quartered apricots in the pan. Place the rum, eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and flour in a blender and pulse until smooth. Pour over the apricots and bake for 45 minutes, or until brown and firm in the centre. Cool on a rack. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving. Refrigerate any leftovers.