Every year when the elderflowers are in bloom all over the countryside and even in the middle of the city I marvel at the magical muscat flavour they impart to drinks, sorbets and ice creams. Gooseberry jam with elderflowers is a wonderful old-fashioned combination so I tried the flowers with apricots, both for stewing and for jam; the effect is just as good, if not better.
Halve and stone the apricots. Put them in a pan with the demerara sugar and the strained lemon and orange juice. Cover and put over a low heat, stirring now and then, for a few minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat, shake in the flowers from the elderflower heads, then return to the heat and simmer in the open pan for 5 minutes or until the apricots are soft. The mixture should be thick; if it is at all liquid, boil fiercely for a minute or two to reduce the juices. Then leave to cool. Meanwhile, put the white cheese in a bowl, sift in the icing sugar and beat until soft. Whisk the cream until it stands in soft peaks and then fold it into the cheese. Pile the cheese mixture into the middle of a round serving plate and, using a spatula, press it out and smooth it into a wide circle about the height of a cheesecake. Chill it in the fridge for at least an hour. When the apricot mixture has cooled, keep that in the fridge too.
Shortly before serving, spoon the apricot mixture on top of the cheese and decorate with some fresh elderflower sprigs.
© 1997 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.