Hot apricot soufflés
- October 2005
- Serves 6
- Takes 1 hour to make and 12 minutes in the oven
This is a great apricot soufflé recipe because it’s so easy to follow. It’s impressive to look at, and the flavours work brilliantly – you can’t go wrong.
- 10g (4.1g saturated)
- 31.3g (27.3g sugar)
- 500g fresh apricots or 150g dried apricots, soaked overnight if dried
For the custard mixture
- 20g plain flour
- 20g butter at room temperature, plus extra for brushing
- 40g caster sugar
- ½ vanilla pod
- 200ml milk
- 3 eggs, separated
- 2 tbsp icing sugar, for dusting
For the almond caramel
- 50g caster sugar
- 20g whole blanched almonds
- Cut the fresh apricots in half and remove the stones.
- Cook in 3 tablespoons water in a large pan for 5 minutes. (If using dried apricots, poach them in the liquid they’ve been soaked in for 10 minutes.) Drain. In a liquidiser – or, better still, using a mini-hand blender – whizz the poached fruit to as fine a purée as possible. If using fresh apricots, press the mixture through a sieve with a wooden spoon. You will need 200ml of purée. Set aside.
- Place the flour, butter and half the caster sugar in a small bowl and rub together to make fine ‘breadcrumbs’. Chill until needed.
- Split the vanilla pod in half and scrape out the seeds. Place the seeds and pods in a pan with the milk.
- Bring the milk just to the boil, then gradually whisk in the butter and flour ‘breadcrumbs’ mixture, stirring all the time.
- Cook over a low heat for 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly, until the starch grains have burst and the sauce is thickened but not floury.
- Remove from the heat and beat in 2 egg yolks. Remove and discard the vanilla pod. Put the sauce in a large bowl to cool, and cover with cling film to prevent a skin forming.
- Line a baking tray with baking paper. Put the caster sugar in a small pan and place over a high heat until the sugar has melted and begins to turn golden brown.
- Add the almonds and pour the mixture onto the baking tray to cool. When the caramel has hardened, break it up. Place half in a liquidiser and whizz until finely ground – almost like a powder.
- Coarsely chop the remaining caramel with a sharp knife. Set aside.
Prepare the ramekins
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/ gas 6. Brush the sides of the ramekins with a little butter. There is no need for you to brush the bases. Chill for 1 minute, then add a second layer of butter.
- Pour the powdered almond caramel into one ramekin, roll it around to coat the sides, then pour the remainder into the next one. Continue until all the ramekins are coated, tapping the bases to remove any excess.
- In a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk the 3 egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gradually whisk in the remaining 20g sugar until shiny and stiff.
- Mix the apricot purée into the custard with a large spoon. With the same spoon, add one spoonful of meringue to the cooled custard and mix well. Fold in the remaining meringue and the coarser caramel.
Bake the soufflés
- Fill the ramekins with the soufflé mixture, then scrape a knife over the top to level.
- Run your thumbnail around the edge of the ramekins to remove a little mixture – this again helps the soufflé rise straight up. Place the soufflés on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 12 minutes. They should be just firm, with a slight wobble. Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately. Cut a cross in the top of each soufflé and add a scoop of vanilla or amaretti ice cream, if you like.
For the best possible flavour, try to use the last of the season’s fresh apricots.
Australian sweet (‘botrytised’) Semillon is a wow with any apricot dessert – the rich yet fresh flavours of the raisined Semillon grapes work wonderfully well. Serve chilled in small glasses.
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