Peel the apricots by plunging them briefly into a pan of boiling water to loosen the skins. Put the vanilla pod, bay leaves and spices in a saucepan with the apricots and wine. Simmer gently until the apricots are tender but not woolly. This may take anything from 10–30 minutes, depending on the ripeness of the fruit. Remove the apricots with a slotted spoon, and transfer to a serving bowl. Boil the liquid to thicken it slightly, and sweeten with sugar or honey to taste. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod into the syrup, and pour through a strainer over the apricots. When cool, chill until ready to serve. The bay leaves can be used to decorate some of the apricots.
Cloves and cinnamon can be used in place of the vanilla, pepper and allspice mixture.
© 1995 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.