"I love apricots. They're so fuzzy they're furry. They're like little pets you can eat legally." -- This is the story my great-grandfather told my father, who then told my grandfather, who then told me about how the mythical Mr. Boo, Charles Manseur Fizzlebush Grissham III, better known as Mr. Fizzlebush, and Orafoura are all in fact me
Whew! The title of that book almost made me reconsider my choice for using the quote! But, you see, apricots' fuzzy skins are just one of the many things that makes them so much fun. When I was a little girl, I used to love the various touch sensations that came from eating a just-ripe apricot -- the fuzzy outside, the soft nearly gooey inside and the juice dribbling down your chin. Yum! So, with stone fruits in season, there was no question for me but to choose apricots as the highlight of last month's Monthly Cooking Adventure.
However, when I started looking through cookbooks to decide what to do with said apricots, the recipe that most jumped out at me was one for French Chocolate Bark from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics. While there are apricots in the bark, they're dried and not fresh. Ah, well. Dried apricots are still apricots in my book!
Needless to say, I had to change a few things from Ina's recipe to make it my own. The biggest change was that I made my bark out of white chocolate. This produced a deliciously creamy dessert and, in my opinion, really made the flavors of the fruits inside sing. I also added toasted pine nuts along with all the fruit for a savory (but still buttery) crunch. Finally, make sure you use sour cherries for a tangy counterpoint. We served this after Spring Green Risotto, Red Lentil Salad and Apricot Sangria. Bon appetit!
French White Chocolate Bark
adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics
- 1 cup pine nuts
- 12 ounces white chocolate, chopped
- 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, diced
- 1/2 cup dried sour cherries
- 1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
Preheat oven to 350 F. With a pencil, draw a 9x10 inch rectangle on a sheet of parchment paper. Make the markings dark enough that they can be seen through the paper, then flip the paper over and place on a sheet pan (so the pencil markings don't get on your food).
Spread pine nuts out on another pan and bake 8 minutes, until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
Place chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave on high in 30-second segments, stirring with a rubber spatula in between, until chocolate in just melted. It's fine if there are still a few chunks; they'll disappear with some vigorous stirring. Keep stirring until chocolate is completely smooth and slightly glossy.
Pour chocolate onto parchment paper, spreading it out so it fits into the drawn rectangle (don't go crazy if it isn't perfect). Sprinkle the top evenly with the ginger, pine nuts, cherries, apricots and raisins. You may have to push the fruit and nuts into the chocolate so they stick. Put in freezer for 1 hour to harden. Cut into chunks and serve cold or at room temperature. Enjoy!