When I was young, I went through a phase where I was obsessed with apricot baby food. Not baby young; we’re talking four-years-old young. My brother (E) was an actual baby at the time, and I would insist on also being served a bowl of baby food whenever he was fed. (I’m willing to admit there may have been other forces at work here besides a love of pureed foodstuff. It’s possible that I was a little bit envious of my new, doted-on, glassy-eyed sibling [who wasn’t even the right kind — I specifically told my mom that I wanted a sister]. And if I wasn’t going to get to play in the baby jumper suspended from the living room ceiling [which E clearly wasn’t capable of utilizing to its fullest potential], then I was at least going to demand that I be given the same treatment as him when it came to food.) So yeah, maybe there’s that. But I recall really enjoying the taste of apricot baby food, specifically. (No matter how fixated I was on making sure this of blob of a baby knew it wasn’t special, there was no way in hell I was eating pureed carrots.) The apricot stuff didn’t just taste of sweet regression, it was kind of downright yummy.
Now, if you think that’s strange, it gets weirder. Since my baby food obsession died out, I’m pretty sure I have not eaten an apricot. I think I may have tried a dried apricot once at my parents’ insistence, and I was not impressed. I blame the texture, which has kept me from enjoying a lot of pitted fruits until recently (when I realized they are good for plenty of other things besides straight eating). After making a really delicious roasted plum sorbet last year, I was ready to branch out a bit more into the world of stone fruits.
So when I spotted some apricots in the store a couple weeks ago, I thought back to my baby food obsession. I considered buying a few but then decided against it, since I had no idea what I’d actually want to do with them. But then Eva posted this gorgeous galette, noting that apricots have a rather short season (I had no idea), and it inspired me to think up something asap.
My thoughts immediately went to roasting and ice cream, and The Flavor Bible pointed me in the direction of adding almond in some form. I love a bit of crunchy texture in my ice cream, and an almond streusel seemed beyond perfect. And it would give me an excuse to bake up an entire pan of streusel, which is something I have to restrain myself from doing without a specific purpose. (I’ll try to tell myself that I’ll surely use it for something, but I know that something would just wind up being me eating fistfuls of it straight from a mason jar.)
As I researched recipes for apricot ice cream, one of the things that surprised me was the consistent absence of egg yolks. I finally happened upon this recipe (also the inspiration for the buttermilk addition), which mentioned that stone fruits contain lots of pectin. Therefore, ice creams made from them don’t require an additional thickening agent, like egg yolks. Pretty rad, right? Don’t get me wrong, I love me an eggy ice cream. But not needing to stand over a hot stove waiting for a custard to thicken? That wins, especially in the heat wave we’ve been enduring lately.
Roasting the apricots with brown sugar gives them a deeper, richer flavor, which is brightened up by a couple healthy squeezes of lemon juice. The buttermilk really takes the tartness of this ice cream to the next level. You’re hit immediately by a sour flavor, which slowly mellows, and is then rounded out beautifully by the bits of buttery almond streusel. (You can totally see people experiencing these flavor transitions when they taste the ice cream for the first time. If I could hear the thought process, I think it would go something like, “Whoa, this is TANGY……[citrus and buttermilk mellowing, apricot coming through]……ok, this is actually pretty good……[streusel bits]……what was THAT…omg…more…MORE!!!”)
Just a few notes on flavor: If you aren’t totally into the idea of a somewhat sour ice cream, you might want to forgo the buttermilk and use all heavy cream instead. Also, I added a little bit of freshly ground black pepper to the streusel to give things an unusual bite, but it didn’t quite come through the way that I had wanted it to. I’ve amended the streusel recipe below with double the amount that I used, but feel free to leave it out entirely. Alternatively, I had considered adding some fresh bits of rosemary to the streusel, but completely forgot to pick some up from the store [and, sadly, am a total slacker who still has yet to plant her garden]. I think it could bring some really wonderful flavor to the ice cream, but whether or not you’d like to experiment with that is up to you. Regardless, I highly recommend that you grab some apricots and give this ice cream a try, before they’ve disappeared from the shelves.
Roasted Apricot Buttermilk Ice Cream with Almond Streusel
makes: around 1 quart of ice cream
Note: When choosing apricots for this ice cream, the riper, the better. You want the ones that feel like you could put your finger right through them if you don’t handle them in the most delicate way.
1 1/2 lbs of mega-ripe apricots (15–20, depending on size)
brown sugar (for roasting)
3/4 cup of sugar
1 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup of buttermilk
2 drops of almond extract (careful not to overdo it — a little goes a long way)
juice of half a lemon
1 cup of almond streusel (recipe below)
Note: This recipe will make more than you need for the ice cream. Store the leftovers in the fridge for up to 1 week (or freeze on a baking sheet then store for longer in the freezer), and sprinkle on top of ice cream when serving. Never enough streusel!
1/2 cup of sliced almonds
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 stick of butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup of almond meal
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 tsp freshly ground coarse black pepper
Preheat oven to 350° and line a small baking sheet or pan with parchment paper.
Add slivered almonds and almond extract to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until a crumbly mixture comes together. (Alternatively, if you don’t have a food processor, you could finely chop almonds, then combine the remaining ingredients and cut in butter.) Spread evenly over baking sheet and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until butter has melted and the mixture has begun to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and let cool, then break into crumbly bits.
To roast the apricots:
Preheat oven to 425°. Halve and pit apricots. Arrange on a parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with a healthy dose of brown sugar. Bake for around 20 minutes, or until super soft and nicely browned.
To make the ice cream:
Add still-warm apricots to the bowl of your food processor along with sugar and pureé until smooth. Push mixture through a sieve to remove and fibrous bits.
Add apricot pureé to a bowl and stir in lemon juice and almond extract, then mix in heavy cream and buttermilk. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or until mixture is completely chilled.
Freeze in your ice cream maker as per the instructions. Mix in streusel once the freezing is complete.