Despite their competitive price and plump appearance, imported dried apricots lack the essential attributes of flavour and colour.
Dried apricots produced here in New Zealand are a different breed altogether. When soaked, they hydrate perfectly, retaining their vibrant colour. More importantly, the flavour shines through, no matter what you're cooking.
All food writers have a pet hobby horse and mine is the fantastic Central Otago dried apricot. The drying process intensifies the very essence of the fruit, giving jam and other preserves a sharper and deeper flavour.
They are very easy to work with - a joy, in fact. When cooked after soaking, the Kiwi dried apricot actually pulps. Great when you are making jam or sauce or a sponge pudding or shortcake.
Like all superior products they are not cheap, but you can buy them loose (at $3.99 for 100g) from Alison Holst's bulk range at supermarkets. They are also sold by good food stores.
DRIED APRICOT SHORTCAKE
175g chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup sugar or to taste
Put apricots in a bowl and add cold water to just cover.
Cover bowl and soak overnight.
Put the fruit and soaking liquid in a small saucepan.
Bring to a gentle boil for a few minutes, adding a little more water if necessary to make a thick pulp.
Stir in sugar and continue to cook gently. Remove pan from heat when sugar has dissolved and fruit is pulpy - about 10 minutes.
Cool until tepid.
125g softened butter
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
finely grated zest of an orange
icing sugar to dust
Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Spray or grease a 21cm flan tin with removable base.
Cream butter and sugar thoroughly.
Add egg and beat again.
Sift flour, cornflour and baking powder together in a bowl.
Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, gradually add dry ingredients.
Add vanilla and zest and beat through.
Spread two-thirds of the dough in the tin.
Spread the tepid fruit mixture over the dough base.
Pinch small portions from remaining dough and distribute over the fruit.
Bake centre oven for 25-30 minutes.
Dust with icing sugar.
- © Fairfax NZ News