“Everybody must get stoned.” - Bob Dylan
“Everybody must get stone fruit.” - Elisson
A bowl of rosy-cheeked apricots - the quintessential summer fruit.
One of the small delights of summer is the availability of stone fruit in season. Plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots - I love ’em all. They’re sweet and juicy when you catch them at their peak... and part of their appeal is that they are so ephemeral. That peak is all too brief: Eat ’em too soon and they’re flavorless lumps, too late and they’re mealy balls of mush.
This being the Peach State, you would expect delicious peaches to be common here. You would be wrong. Year after year, local nectarines and peaches disappoint. They’re picked way too early, in order to accommodate the logistical requirements of the modern Agricultural-Industrial Complex, with the predictable result that they end up tasting like chunks of wood. Once in a while I’ll find good peaches, and I grab ’em up when I do.
Apricots are what peaches hope they are reborn as in their next life, one step closer to nirvana. They have a delicate perfume that is distinct from that of any other fruit, one that is complemented by cherries and almonds.
I have made apricot curd, a thoroughly decadent confection that packs a huge Flavor-Wallop. Alas, it also packs an equally huge Calorie-Wallop, containing as it does some massive amounts of sugar, egg yolks, and butter. I’ve also made apricot ice cream before - yummy, but something to be eaten in small doses lest one’s butt become enhuged. Today, however, I found a way to capture that ephemeral apricot flavor in a less conscience-shattering form: Light Apricot-Noyau Ice Cream.
Noyau? WTF is that, you ask. It’s the kernel that inhabits the apricot pit. Smash the pits to get at these little goobers and their hauntingly beautiful flavor. If you like Amaretto, you know what noyau tastes like.
To make this ice cream, take about twenty or so little apricots - about 12-13 ounces of flesh without the pits. These go into a saucepan with 2-3 tablespoons of water over medium heat, where you cook them down until they’re completely soft and fragrant. Mash them through a sieve to make a purée. Put this aside.
While the apricots are simmering, put two cups of half-and-half (not the fat-free kind) in another saucepan with a half cup of baking Splenda (you could use a full cup of granulated sugar) and a tablespoon or two of light corn syrup. Take a goodly handful of apricot pits and smash them to get at the kernels, which you then grind up with a mortar and pestle. The ground kernels go into the half-and-half, and the whole mess over a medium flame until just short of simmering. Take it off the flame and leave it to steep for 30 minutes.
Strain the warm half-and-half into the apricot purée and blend thoroughly. Chill for a few hours, then freeze according to the directions on your ice cream freezer. Hoo-hah! (And the nice thing is, this stuff is comparatively low in calories compared to typical store-bought ice cream - so I can eat it without fear of the Dreaded Fat-Ass.)