So what could be worth breaking nine months of radio silence for? These little pieces of heaven, that’s what.
They’re sweet but not too sweet, creamy but not cloying, just exotic enough to stand out without overwhelming timid tasters with anything weird.
And after the third or fourth time I was specifically requested to bring them to some sort of Happening, I figured it was time to share them with the world. I can’t recall where I got the original recipe, but I’ve tweaked it to the point that it may or may not be unrecognizable.
Mascarpone-Amaretto Stuffed Apricots
Yield: approximately one crap-ton, or at least it feels that way while you’re making them, but it never really comes out to be enough
A quantity of dried apricots, preferably the unsulfured Turkish variety, which are kind of a peculiar brown hue but taste better nonetheless
A 4-ounce (I think) carton of mascarpone; you could also use cream cheese if you can’t find mascarpone anywhere, but you’ll need to whip it for a good while all by itself first, also the result will be much heavier and tangier
1 tsp to 1 Tbsp honey, depending on your personal liking
About 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (and perhaps a bit of the zest, if you’re feeling frisky)
1/2 tsp ground (or, better: freshly grated) nutmeg
A pinch (only!) of salt
2 to 3 Tbsp amaretto liqueur
About 1/2 cup blanched almonds, very very finely chopped/minced/pulverized, divided
In a small bowl, beat the mascarpone for a few seconds with a hand mixer on low speed to lighten. Add honey, lemon juice, nutmeg, salt, and amaretto; beat on low speed until combined. With a rubber spatula, fold in a few tablespoons of the chopped almonds.
Scoop about a third of this mixture into a pastry bag, should you be fancy enough to own one, or into a Ziploc bag, should you be me and not be so fancy. If you’re using a Ziploc bag, seal the bag and snip off one of the bottom corners. Put the remaining chopped almonds in a shallow plate.
Pick up an apricot and look for the cut where the pit was removed. With a small knife, widen and deepen the cut until there is a generous pocket in the apricot (but don’t cut all the way through it). Squeeze about a teaspoon of mascarpone mixture into the pocket. Press apricot gently to even out filling. Roll cut edge in the chopped almonds; set finished apricot aside; pick up another apricot and repeat, repeat, repeat. This is not a difficult process, but it is a fairly time-consuming one.
These are especially nice if you chill them a little before serving. I imagine they would be lovely with some Champagne, because what isn’t?
N.B.: If you’re wondering what Ol’ Dirty Bastard has to do with mascarpone-stuffed apricots, well, I needed a background so my photo wouldn’t just be one lonely apricot floating in space, and this stamp I carved last week seemed to fit the bill.