I think of apricots as the blushing baby sisters to peaches and nectarines, all of them stone fruits that reach their peak at various points throughout the summer. Peaches become more glorious as summer progresses, growing impossibly succulent by the time August rolls around, and nectarines follow a similar curve. But in the same way that little ones have an earlier bedtime while their older siblings are still out on the town, rosy apricots bow out by late June or early July. Since apricot season is rapidly coming to an end, I am especially happy that I had a chance to make Apricot Sorbet with my Little Chef this week.
I had a movie date to see “Toy Story 3” with my nephew Mac (aka The Little Chef), an event we both had been looking forward to with great anticipation, and we hit Whole Foods together to get snacks before the movie. En route to the chips aisle, I was stopped in my tracks by a lavish display of golden apricots. When I casually mentioned that we could buy some apricots to make sorbet, my suggestion was greeted with a very enthusiastic “YES!!!” from the Little Chef.
So that is why we took two pounds of dewy apricots—as well as two pints of fresh raspberries and a large bag of Pirate’s Booty—to the Ziegfeld Theater in midtown Manhattan on Friday afternoon. In this day and age of cookie cutter multiplexes, it is always a thrill to see a film at the historic Ziegfeld, New York City’s last single-screen movie house with a monster sound system. Mac actually gasped with delight when we walked into this majestic theater with its plush black-and-red velvet décor, out of his mind with excitement that we were seeing this eagerly awaited movie on such a mammoth screen.
It would be an understatement to say that we loved the movie. Actually, WE LOVED IT, in capital letters and boldface print. It is a movie that appeals on multiple levels to kids and adults alike, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried at the end. Mac, an eight-year-old with an insatiable curiosity who has created some little stop-animation movies of his own, could not stop talking about the movie afterwards. We discussed the hilarious characters in great detail as we walked all the way home, apricots in tow.
In fact, the Little Chef and I were still talking about our favorite scenes in “Toy Story 3” as we pitted the apricots, sliced them into sixths and cooked them down with a bit of sugar and water. We tried to remember the funniest lines as I pureed the cooked apricots in the blender and quickly chilled the mixture in an ice bath. Trying to prolong the magic of the movie for as long as possible, we were STILL doing a comparative plot analysis between the three Toy Story movies by the time we poured the apricot puree in my ice cream maker, letting the Kitchenaid work its own brand of magic.
By the time we concluded that this third movie was definitely the best of the three, our apricot sorbet was ready. And for the first time in hours, our conversation finally shifted from the latest Pixar movie to how much we love making ice cream together, especially this apricot sorbet. Luscious yet light with an incredibly smooth texture, it was the purest essence of apricot in a most refreshing form. I don’t know who was more excited about how well our sorbet tuned out, but the Little Chef and I gave each other a high-five as we scraped our bowls clean. Talk about a fabulous end to a great movie date!
One Year Ago: Key Lime Cupcakes
Adapted, barely, from a recipe in The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
This book has become my ice cream bible in the past year, and this simple recipe is yet another winner. Cooking the apricots with a little sugar and water somehow intensifies their apricot-ness, though I used a little less sugar than the original recipe called for. Instead of vanilla or almond extract to finish it, I added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to brighten the flavor. Don’t be dissuaded from trying this recipe if you don’t have an ice cream maker in your kitchen, for you can easily make it by following the instructions given in the link below.
2 pounds ripe fresh apricots, cut in half and pits removed
1 cup water
1 scant cup sugar
A generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice (or a few drops of vanilla or almond extract)
Slice each apricot half into thirds and place in a medium non-reactive saucepan. Add the water and sugar and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the apricots have softened and are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature.
When it has cooled, puree the apricot mixture in a blender or food processor until perfectly smooth. Add the lemon juice (or vanilla or almond extract, if using), and chill the mixture at least two hours or until it has chilled to 40°. (You can speed this process up by placing the bowl of apricot puree inside a larger bowl filled with ice water.)
Freeze the apricot puree in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Alternately, if you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can freeze it according to these directions. Makes about 1 quart.