Monday, July 22, 2013

The Fruits of Summer (Brown-Butter Apricots + Dulce de Leche Ice Cream = Deliciousness) ...

Confession: I am a terrible baker. There have been many dessert disasters over the years when I try to approach anything concerning flour, measuring cups, and the oven. I'm a darn good cook, but desserts are just not my forte, probably because they require specific proportions and I am (a) too impatient and (b) too lazy to ensure the accuracy of my ingredients. I prefer to cook like Rachel Ray, who uses her palm as a measuring spoon. During the lush months of summer, however, I actually tackle desserts, mainly because the sweet fruits offered up by nature during this time ensure that making something delicious is almost effortless.

This past Friday evening, we had my in-laws over for pizzas on the porch (margherita, heirloom tomato, and pesto-n-prosciutto, all simple to make). For dessert, I made apricots cooked in a brown-butter sauce (mainly because I had a basket of overripe apricots hanging out in the fridge), taking a page out of Martha Stewart's June 2013 issue (the recipe below is adapted from Martha's):

Brown-Butter Apricots, served with Dulce de Leche Ice Cream:

1. Gently toss apricots (pitted and sliced into 1-inch-thick wedges) with 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon (I opted for brown sugar instead of white, because I like the way it caramelizes).
2. In a pan over medium-high heat, cook four tablespoons of butter, swirling often, until the butter is golden brown and smells nutty (be careful, because the butter can go from nutty to burnt in a flash. Stay on top of the butter while it is in the pan).
3. Add apricots and a pinch of salt (I used cracked sea salt, which added little bursts of savoriness to the dessert when completed), swirling the pan again to coat the fruit in the butter. They only need to be on the heat for about a minute, because you don't want the apricots to break down too much.

4. Remove pan from heat, let cool slightly (I made mine ahead of time, and then reheated them slightly just before dessert). Choose a pretty dish, scoop in as much ice cream as you like, and top with the apricots and sauce, along with a few fresh blackberries or raspberries (see above). Our guests raved about this dessert, especially the kids, whom I had to keep out of the kitchen until it was time for dessert because when the frying of the apricots filled the house with their sweet aroma, they all came running.

I also found it goes surprisingly well with beer, especially Sam Adams's Porch Rocker, included in the Sam Adams Summer Sampler. I highly recommend trying this dessert, even if you are as inept as me in the sweets department. It won't disappoint. ~Alice (aka jess)

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