I know, we've already done Challenge Cherries as one of our culinary challenges for Concert in the Park, and then I made Giada's Apricot and Nut Cookies with Amaretto Icing, but the fresh apricots and cherries keep calling to me.
So, while John was grilling shrimp on the barbie, and I was unwinding with an Orange Sidecar on the front lawn, after a long day practicing the law, I immersed myself in the effects of my cocktail and prepared this summer dessert. The cocktail and the dessert are both in Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen.
First, the cocktail...Orange Sidecar. I found the glass at Crate & Barrel outlet and wanted to give it a whirl...
Combine 1/2 cup brandy; 2 tablespoons Triple Sec; 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice; and 3 tablespoons orange juice. Combine in shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a couple of cocktail glasses. Enjoy. Delicious.
Now, gather your ingredients for the dessert...as your man finishes the shrimp and grilled veggies on the grill...
Cherries, apricots, lemon, lemon zest, sugar, toasted pine nuts...
In a medium saucepan, combine: 2 cups water and 2 cups sugar. Stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat to medium-high and add: 50 cherries (about 3/4 lb. or 2 generous cups); 1 teaspoon vanilla extract; and the zest and juice from 1/2 lemon. Bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes.
I strayed from the recipe at this point, removed the cherries, and continued reducing the cherry sauce for an additional 15 minutes. I then added a splash of Luxardo Maraschino Cherry liqueur....I LOVE this stuff! Turn off the heat and let the sauce cool a bit while you prepare the apricots.
Mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup coarsely ground pine nuts. I used Pure Cane Washed Raw Sugar and tossed a few slivered almonds into the mix.
Tyler's version calls for 12 apricots, halved and pitted, but I only had 4 (however, the remaining Maraschino Cherry Syrup, cherries, and sugar-nut mixture may work just fine over some ice cream at some point this week). Dip the apricots halves, cut side down, into the sugar-nut mixture.
Place the apricots on a cookie sheet, dipped side up, and broil for about 5 minutes, until the sugar has caramelized.
To serve, put 2 apricot halves on each plate, arrange 5-6 cherries around the apricots, pour some cherry sauce over the top (mine was almost a caramel after I reduced it for the additional 15 minutes), and sprinkle with a few whole, toasted pine nuts.
It's a good thing Bradley is always willing to run over on a moment's notice for a tasting. He loved the dessert, describing it as "healthy, with just a smidgen of guilt."