Cookbook Challenge 2011: Fortnight 1, Stonefruits

Theme: Stone fruits
Recipe: Apricot and cardamom fool
Book: Ballymaloe Cookery Course

The theme for the first Cookbook Challenge this year is “stone fruits”. And while I love summer and summer fruits, my tastes lean more towards mangoes, lychees and berries rather than stone fruits like peaches, apricots, nectarines and plums. So while I could’ve stretched the theme for this week and used mangoes or lychees – I mean, they do have stones IN THEM – I opted to pick up some apricots and nectarines instead.

I poached the fruits in a syrup spiced with whole cardamom pods. I love cardamom because it’s so aromatic, with a warm, spicy-sweet flavour. I deliberately didn’t make my poaching syrup too sweet, because I wanted the tartness of the fruit and spice of the cardamom to come through.

After the fruit had poached, I decided I wanted to turn it into a fool, which is normally made by mixing pureed fruit and whipped cream together. Easy to make, plus it’s a brilliant name for a dessert! I wanted some texture in my fool so rather than puree my fruit, I roughly cut it up into chunks, only mixing half of the fruit into the cream. I layered the remaining half with the cream mixture in a glass and topped it with chopped pistachios, which it didn’t really need, but hey – it looked good!

If you don’t have cream or don’t like cream, it would be good to make this dessert with a thick yogurt. I would recommend a sweetened yoghurt, or alternatively add more sugar when poaching the fruit as my fruit was quite tart – it worked well with the cream but might be a bit too sour with yoghurt.

To see what everyone else made for this theme, check out the Cookbook Challenge forum.

Previous Cookbook Challenge posts can be found here.

Apricot and Cardamom Fool

Adapted from Ballymaloe Cookery Course

For the poached fruit:
600g fresh apricots
12 cardamom pods
1.2 litres water
200g-400g sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the fool:
Thickened cream – about 300ml
A couple of teaspoons sifted icing sugar (or to taste)
Vanilla bean paste / extract

First, poach the apricots. Wash them and halve them, removing the stones.

Crush the cardamom pods slightly. Place them into a large pot, with the water, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir and bring to the boil.

Add the apricots and simmer until tender. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon and allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, lightly whip the cream. Add the icing sugar and vanilla bean paste to taste.

Roughly chop up the apricots and add fold half of them into the cream.

Layer the remaining diced apricots with the cream mixture in a glass and serve.