When the first apricots come in, it’s a glorious indication of more to come. The pairing of apricots and almonds is delicate and beautiful, while the thyme in the syrup is gentle enough not to overpower the dish, but just enough to get you smiling. Make this for friends who want a lighter end to dinner. It’s really important to taste the apricots before you poach them, and again afterwards: fruit varies in sweetness and flavour, so adjust the sugar levels in the syrup accordingly.
Poached apricots and almond cream
Pre 10 min
Infuse 1 hr
Cook 1 hr 15 min
Chill 2-4 hr
2-3 fresh thyme sprigs
8 apricotshalved and stoned
40g flaked almonds
160ml whole milk
45g caster sugar
110ml double cream
2 gelatine leaves
1 tbsp icing sugar
Make the poaching liquid by putting the sugar in a pan with 300ml water and heating until steaming. Add the thyme and halved apricots, and simmer on a low heat for 15-20 minutes, until the fruit softens and the skins start to come away from the flesh.
Turn off the heat, leave the fruit to sit in the hot liquid for five minutes, then gently lift out the apricots and pull off the skins. Return the fruit to the liquid, remove and discard the thyme stalks and leave to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the almond cream. Toast the almonds in a dry pan until golden, then add the milk, sugar and double cream. When it starts to simmer, take off the heat and leave to infuse for an hour.
Strain the milk mix through a sieve, and put the drained flaked almonds to one side. Soak the gelatine in ice-cold water until softened. Gentle warm the milk mixture until steaming, then squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine, add the soft leaves to the hot milk and whisk to dissolve.
Divide the milk mixture equally between four ramekins or dariole moulds, leave to cool slightly, then refrigerate for two to four hours, until completely chilled.
Meanwhile, make the almond topping. Heat the oven to 170C (150C fan)/325F/gas 3. Put the reserved drained flaked almonds in a bowl with the icing sugar and toss to coat. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper and bake, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, until golden. Remove and leave to cool, then roughly crush.
Gentle warm the apricots and serve with a little of their poaching liquid and the chilled cream and topped with the toasted almonds.