Short and sweet

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 July, 2012, 12:00am


Every summer, I look forward to the brief apricot season. When I finally find them in the markets, I cook at least one batch of apricot jam so I can enjoy the fruit the rest of the year and make desserts such as the two below.

Raspberry, vanilla-poached apricot and Greek yogurt parfaits with lemon and muscovado sugar crumble (pictured)

You need to bloom (soften in water; see Truc, page 60) the gelatine and melt it into each puree just before using it. If you do it too soon, it might start to set in the bowl, rather than in the glass. Gelatine sheets are a lot easier to use than powdered gelatine, and they're worth looking for.

For the yogurt, choose the brand carefully. It should be thick but smooth and spreadable, and not too tangy.

About 1kg Greek yogurt

For the raspberry layer:

300 grams frozen raspberries

200 grams granulated sugar

8 grams gelatine sheets

For the apricot layer:

500 grams apricots

300ml water

300 grams granulated sugar

1/2 a vanilla bean

25ml fresh lemon juice

8 grams gelatine sheets

For the crumble:

75 grams plain (all-purpose) flour

40 grams muscovado sugar

1/4 tsp fine sea salt

50 grams butter, slightly softened

Finely grated zest of half a lemon

To serve:

Fresh raspberries

Fresh mint leaves

Put the raspberries and sugar in a mixing bowl and leave to thaw. Stir the ingredients together until the sugar is dissolved then puree in a food processor. Leave at room temperature.

Halve the apricots and remove and discard the pits, then cut each half into four pieces. Put the sugar and water in a saucepan and stir to dissolve. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Put the seeds and scraped-out pod into the saucepan. Bring to the boil then add the apricot. Bring to a simmer then remove from the heat, cover the pan with the lid and leave to poach for 10 minutes, or until they're soft. Drain the apricot in a colander set over a bowl. Puree the apricot in a food processor then weigh the puree. Stir in the lemon juice then add enough of the poaching liquid so the puree weighs 500 grams. Cool to room temperature.

Spoon a layer (about 50 grams) of Greek yogurt into eight straight-sided glasses that hold about 240 grams each (if they're bigger or smaller, you'll need to adjust the amount of each ingredient, or make fewer or more of the parfaits). Gently tap the glasses on a dish towel-lined work surface to even out the yogurt layer.

Put eight grams of gelatine sheets into a bowl of cold water so they're submerged. When they're soft, squeeze out as much water as possible, put the gelatine into a bowl then add about 50 grams of the apricot puree. Zap in the microwave for about 20 seconds or until the gelatine is melted but not too hot. Stir well then mix it thoroughly into the remaining apricot puree. Divide the puree between the glasses, spooning it over the yogurt gently so it doesn't disturb the layering. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until the puree is set.

Spoon a layer of yogurt over the apricot puree, tapping it on the work surface to even it out. Soak eight grams of gelatine sheets in cold water and when they're soft, squeeze them to remove the excess water. Put the gelatine in a clean bowl with about 50 grams of raspberry puree and zap in the microwave as before. When the gelatine is melted stir it into the remaining raspberry puree. Spoon this over the layer of yogurt then refrigerate until set. Spread a third, thin layer of yogurt over the raspberry puree and smooth it so it's flush with the top of the glass. Refrigerate until needed.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Make the crumble by mixing the flour with the sugar and salt. Cut the butter into small chunks, add them to the flour/sugar and mix with your fingertips until the butter is in very small pieces. Mix in the lemon zest. Take about half the crumble mixture and spread it in a thin layer in a pan. Bake at 180 degrees until lightly browned and fragrant, then allow it to cool. (The remaining crumble mixture can be refrigerated or frozen for another use.)

When it's time to serve dessert, sprinkle some of the baked crumble over the parfaits, then garnish with a fresh raspberry and a mint sprig.

Apricot sorbet

If you add a tiny amount of whisked egg white to a sorbet mixture, it lightens the texture; the vodka (or any type of alcohol) prevents it from freezing too hard.

800 grams ripe apricots

200 grams granulated sugar

300ml water

1/4 tsp fine sea salt

About 30ml fresh lemon juice, or to taste

About 15ml vodka

5ml egg white (optional)

Halve the apricots and remove and discard the pits. Dissolve the sugar and salt with the water in a saucepan, then bring to the boil. Stir in the apricot and simmer over a low flame until the fruit is just tender. Cool to room temperature then puree in a food mill fitted with the finest disc. Chill the mixture until very cold then stir in the lemon juice and vodka. Taste the mixture and, if needed, add more lemon juice so it's quite tart. If using the egg white, whisk it until it's frothy then stir it into the mixture. Process in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions (you might need to process it in two batches). Pack the sorbet into an airtight container and freeze for at least three hours.

Styling Nellie Ming Lee