Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dried Apricotsicles

On my trip to Japan last year, I spent quite a lot of time shopping for budget souvenirs at 100-yen ($1) shops.  Among my haul were four individual popsicle molds made of (packable) silicon rubber.  I have them in pretty much constant rotation right now and every time I pop out a perfectly formed sicle it occurs to me that good design is a real pleasure.  The popsicles are short and fat, but not overly large; each mold has a strap that wraps over the top to hold the stick in place and little feet that keep it stable in the freezer.  

The fact that the molds are separate instead of conjoined encourages experimentation; I can make one or two on a whim, or fill one mold with ingredients that would make a unappetizing mess should they happen to slop over into another.  

My first attempt at making apricot sauce for anzu kori    If it seems odd to be using dried apricots at a time of year when fresh ones are widely available, consider that drying intesifies the fruit's natural sugars. If, like me, you are taking a break from sugar, this is one of those magical treats that is satisfyingly sweet without the help of any added

Two of the popsicles in the group shot below are made from my first attempt at apricot syrup for anzu kori.  I used unsulphured dried apricots and a recipe for stewed fruit compote.  Although I omitted the most overtly Christmasy spices, I've really been enjoying spicy foods this summer, so I decided to throw in a little cinnamon and both powdered and grated fresh ginger.  While a lot of homemade popsicles come out hard and icy, thanks to the fruit pulp these are tender and velvety.  

1/2 lb dried apricots
3 c water
1/4-1/3 c sugar (optional--the fruit is pretty sweet on its own)
1 Tbs mixed spices (eg ginger, cinnamon)
1 Tbs lemon juice

Rinse the apricots in cold water and let them soak for 2-3 hours in a saucepan covered in 3 cups clean, cold water.  Don't drain!  Bring the apricots and water to a boil and lower the heat.  Cover and simmer gently until tender (20-25 min).  The apricots should be falling apart, but mash them a little; the texture should be like a chunky applesauce.  Stir in sugar (if using) and quickly take off the heat.  Stir in spices and lemon juice.  Cool to room temperature.  Fill popsicle molds and freeze 4-6 hours.  Refrigerate the remainder of the fruit. 

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