Floating Apricots

I always associate apricots with my childhood in Syria. They tasted wonderful eaten straight off the trees and we dried those we brought back on the flat, sun-baked roof of our house in Damascus.

Sadly, apricots for export must be picked before they have ripened on the tree, and this is why the apricots we buy in this country are not often worth eating uncooked. However, the slightest cooking miraculously brings out their true flavour, as in this lovely pudding. Serve with cream.

Ingredients

  • 4 limes or small lemons
  • 150-225 ml/5-8 fl oz unsweetened orange juice
  • 2 rounded tablespoons honey
  • 40 g/ oz caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 2 rounded teaspoons arrowroot
  • 450 g/1 lb large fresh apricots

Method

Squeeze the juice from the limes or lemons into a measuring jug, bring up to 300 ml/½ pint with orange juice and pour into a saucepan. Add the honey and caster sugar and stir over a medium heat until dissolved. Remove from the heat.

In a cup, stir the arrowroot with a tablespoon of orange juice until smooth and then stir it into the juices in the saucepan. Put the pan back over the heat and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, until thickened. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve on to a large shallow dish or plate, spreading the sauce out all over it. Leave on one side to cool.

Preheat the oven to 240°C/475°F/gas mark 9. Halve the apricots and take out the stones. Lay the apricots, skin-side upwards, on a large baking sheet. Brush the apricot halves with enough water to moisten the skin and then sprinkle a teaspoon of caster sugar over each one. Put them at the very top of the oven for about 10 minutes, until they are soft. They will probably have a little undissolved caster sugar still on them. Leave to cool, then, using a slotted spatula, gently place them set apart on top of the cold sauce. Spoon any syrup from the apricots on top. Leave in a coolish place, but not the fridge, until needed.

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