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Stuffed Apricots with Pistachios and Pomegranate Molasses

A few months ago I read about a Facebook friend’s dessert at a Mediterranean restaurant – Apricots stuffed with pistachios and drizzled with pomegranate molasses.  My mind could immediately taste this delicacy but I automatically adapted it mentally. It was late autumn, not apricot season, which meant it was made with Turkish apricots.

I grew up with what I consider the best fresh and dried apricots — the Blenheim. These apricots are sliced in half and sun dried. They are a delicate apricot that never makes it to the supermarket.  The trade-off is that it is the most flavorful apricot of any I’ve ever tasted. They once grew in abundance in the Santa Clara Valley, but nearly all are gone now as  first housing developments and then the technology of Silicon Valley replaced the magnificent apricot, cherry  and prune orchards. The Valley of the Heart’s Delight, as the valley was known in the first half of the twentieth century, forced many growers to move inland to farm. Except for backyard trees and a couple of small commercial orchards, the valley doesn’t produce them any longer.

Mediterranean dried apricots, also known as Turkish apricots, are processed slightly differently from California’s apricots. The apricots are left whole instead of being cut in half. The pits are removed and the apricots are sulphured (the same with California apricots).* They typically have a  higher moisture content. In this photo you’ll see that the Mediterranean style is much lighter in color than the Blenheims.Blenheim-and-Turkish-ApricotsIMG_1292-300x168

My biggest complaint is that the Mediterranean varieties I’ve tasted have very little flavor and a texture that I’m not crazy about.  However, the Mediterranean apricots are perfect for stuffing. Just slit open the top and fill! In this recipe you may use whichever apricot you prefer (or whichever you can find in your markets).**

First, I put 20 large Blenheim apricot halves in a 2-quart saucepan along with a cinnamon stick, a vanilla bean cut into pieces, a few cloves, and two cardamom pods, split open. It turns out that five stuffed halves is the perfect portion per person.  I added about a cup of Viognier white wine and put the heat on simmer. This allowed the apricots to slowly rehydrate. I used Viognier because the bottle was open but it also happens to be a very fruity white wine made with several autumn grape varietals. You can use whatever white wine you’d like or use white grape juice cut with water 50/50.  You can use whatever spices you’d like though these created a beautiful bouquet to the finished dessert.

Once the fruit begins to plump up, turn off the heat and allow the apricots to sit for several hours or overnight. Remove the apricots from the remaining liquid with a slotted spoon, saving the leftover liquid. Place apricots on a serving dish.

Here’s how the apricots should look when it’s time to stuff them.Plumped-ApricotsIMG_1294-300x168

Add about 1/2 cup of  pomegranate molasses to whatever liquid is left in the saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer, stirring well. Taste and add more molasses if needed. If you have no liquid left, you can either warm the pomegranate molasses or use it straight from the bottle.

You can find pomegranate molasses in specialty food and Middle-Eastern stores and in some supermarkets as it has become a mainstream product in many parts of the country. It is not expensive and makes a delicious addition to salad dressings, marinades and drizzled over  grilled meats, especially pork and lamb.

For 20 apricots you will need approximately half of a container of Mascarpone cheese. You can also use cream cheese blended with a few tablespoons of cream so that it is very creamy.

I blended pomegranate molasses to taste along with about 1/2 teaspoon Rain’s Choice vanilla extract into the Mascarpone. Go light on the sweetening as you will finish the dessert with the syrup on the stove.

Stuff each apricot with a hefty teaspoonful of the cheese mixture.

Roughly chop a cup of roasted pistachios. I couldn’t find the plain pistachios I know I bought, so I used some salted pistachios. Actually, I’m glad I did as the salt adds a nice contrast to the sweet/tart flavor of the apricots and molasses. Use whichever you prefer. Sprinkle the pistachios over the apricots, allowing some to spill onto the serving plate.

Top the stuffed apricots with the syrup from the saucepan. Serve immediately. You can make all the components ahead of time, stuff the apricots, cover and refrigerate. Add the pistachios and syrup just before serving.

This is an amazingly light but densely flavored dessert that is both refreshing and healthy. It can also be served as an afternoon refreshment with mint tea.  While I suspect this recipe is significantly different from the one I read about several months ago, it is definitely a keeper!

* You may use unsulphured apricots but they won’t be as attractive. Here’s a tip: If you are sensitive to sulphur dioxide (I am), place the apricots on a cookie sheet for a day. The sulphur dioxide will dissipate. A doctor I knew years ago taught me this trick.

** You can purchase Blenheim apricots from Pulido Farms (831.636.9897) or Apricot King Orchards (831.637.1938)

Stuffed Apricots with Pistachio's and Pomegranate Molasses
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Ingredients
  1. 20 Blenheim Apricot halves
  2. 1 cinnamon stick
  3. 1 Rain's Choice vanilla bean
  4. 3 cloves
  5. 2 cardamom pods
  6. 1 cup Viognier white wine
  7. 1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
  8. 1 container Mascarpone cheese
  9. 1/2 teaspoon Rain’s Choice vanilla extract
  10. 1 cup chopped roasted pistachios
Instructions
  1. Place the 20 large Blenheim apricot halves in a 2-quart saucepan along with the cinnamon stick, the vanilla bean cut into pieces, cloves, and cardamom pods, split open. Add the Viognier white wine and put the heat on simmer. This allows the apricots to slowly re-hydrate.
  2. Once the fruit begins to plump up, turn off the heat and allow the apricots to sit for several hours or overnight. Remove the apricots from the remaining liquid with a slotted spoon, saving the leftover liquid. Place the apricots on a serving dish.
  3. Add about 1/2 cup of pomegranate molasses to whatever liquid is left in the saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer, stirring well. Taste and add more molasses if needed. If you have no liquid left, you can either warm the pomegranate molasses or use it straight from the bottle.
  4. For 20 apricots you will need approximately half of a container of Mascarpone cheese. You can also use cream cheese blended with a few tablespoons of cream so that it is very creamy.
  5. Blend pomegranate molasses to taste, along with about 1/2 teaspoon Rain’s Choice vanilla extract, into the Mascarpone. Go light on the sweetening, as you will finish the dessert with the syrup on the stove.
  6. Stuff each apricot with a hefty teaspoonful of the cheese mixture.
  7. Sprinkle the pistachios over the apricots, allowing some to spill onto the serving plate.
  8. Top the stuffed apricots with the syrup from the saucepan. Serve immediately. You can make all the components ahead of time, stuff the apricots, cover and refrigerate. Add the pistachios and syrup just before serving.
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Patricia Rain
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Patricia Rain

is an author, educator, culinary historian, and owner of The Vanilla Company (www.vanillaqueen.com), a socially conscious, product-driven information and education site dedicated to the promotion of pure, natural vanilla, and the support of vanilla farmers worldwide. She also does culinary presentations for food professionals, cooking schools, trade shows, food fairs, and private groups, and is a regular radio and TV guest.
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Comments (2)

  • Jane

    |

    Hi Patricia, What a yummy and exotic, yet local sounding treat!! I”m going to try this one this weekend. Wanted to let you know a source for organic apricots in California, from Frog Hollow Farms. They are unsulphured, no pesticide residues (which intensify on dried fruit) so that way you’re sure to have a yummy treat with less chemicals! No airing out required! Thanks for all that you do! Blessings, Jane

    Reply

  • Vanilla Queen

    |

    Hi Jane,

    Frog Hollow Farm is a favorite of ours. Becky has used our vanilla extract for years! The only issue with their apricots (for me) is that they’re not Blenheims. I have a Blenheim tree and am so crazy for them! However, Frog Hollow is a good choice for sure as their fruit is stellar!. Thanks for your note.

    Reply

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