Every year when the apricots are really ripe - not straight after they arrive, but a little later - I make a dessert I found in a Penguin book I've had for years: Cordon Bleu Desserts and Puddings, by Rosemary Hume and Muriel Downes (1976).
It takes a while to put it together but none of it is difficult. However, all the measurements are the old imperial ones so I have to be approximate here.
just over 3/4 cup sugar (it's 6 ounces in the original)
1 1/2 cups water
a few strips of lemon zest
Boil together in a large saucepan for a few minutes to make syrup.
just under 1 kilogram of fresh ripe apricots
12 or more skinned almonds
Halve apricots and remove stones and any bits of stalk at the top. Poach gently in the syrup, cut side up (but put them in cut side down first and then turn them over), until cooked through. (I find it easier to do this in two batches. The idea is to end up with 10-12 halves that have kept their shape well. The rest can be a bit mushy.) Leave it all to cool down.
juice of 1/2 large or 1 whole small lemon, made up to 5 tablespoons with water
25 grams gelatine
Mix juice/water and gelatine in a bowl that you can then sit over a small saucepan of boiling water. Stir the gelatine mixture over the simmering water until it is well dissolved.
Arrange the firmer apricot halves, cut side down, into a round flat-bottomed glass or china dish of some kind, not too shallow - a souffle dish, for example. If you're feeling clever you can fit an almond or two under each one so it sits in the space where the stone was. If not, just scatter the almonds among the halves.
Put the rest of the apricots and the sieved syrup into a food processor and turn it into puree. Add the gelatine mixture and whizz it all together.
Gently pour the puree over the apricot halves so they stay in place. Cover and leave to set in the fridge for at least half a day.
To turn out the suedoise, dip the outside of the dish briefly into hot water. Hold a serving plate over the top (preferably one with a bit of a curve around the edge) and turn the dish upside down. With any luck, the suedoise will turn out neatly onto the plate with its apricot halves looking pretty on the top.
(Or you can just whizz up all the apricots and set and serve the suedoise in its original dish, or set it in individual glass dishes.)
Whipped cream is good with this, and little almond biscuits are very good too.
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