Thursday, March 17, 2011

An Impromptu Trio of Chocolate Desserts

Trio of Chocolate Desserts
One of the remarkable benefits of frittering away one's time on Facebook is the way people you haven't seen or heard from in thirty years (or more) quite unexpectedly reappear in your life. One long lost and very dear friend and I found each other this way. We later reunited at a vegetarian restaurant in Denver, and it was as if not a week had gone by--except for the catching up. Good friendships are like that; joined at the heart, where time has no sway.

A few weeks later, I invited her to dinner at my house. I forget what I made that evening, except for the dessert--and that, only because I had snapped a shot with my iPhone.

I had meant to serve just a Chocolate Pot de Crème, from Speed Vegan, flavored with basil, orange zest, and Javanese comet's tail peppercorns. However, that day I was shopping at my local Vitamin Cottage, and saw some unbelievably luscious, perfectly ripe organic apricots. The produce gods sang in my ear, and I obediently bought a dozen (plus one, for Elijah--you never know). Not wanting to wait another day, I decided to serve some for dessert. As I was pondering on an adequate presentation for these unusual gems, it all came to me at once: a trio of small desserts on a chocolate theme. I had already made the pots de crème, which are small anyway (too rich for a large portion), and I had made some spicy chocolate truffles a few days earlier (also with a hint of orange, plus chile, and a little cardamom), so all I had left to do was tie in the apricots.

I removed the pits and cracked them to extract the kernels, which I chopped coarsely. Then I made a syrup with palm sugar, cacao nibs, and Amaretto (to harmonize with the bitterness of the apricot kernels). Once the cacao nib fragrance began to waft up through the haze of Amaretto fumes, I added the apricots, quartered, and tossed them over a high flame for just about 30 seconds--barely warming them through, not cooking them. Then I served them in little Empire period champagne glasses, drizzled with the syrup, sprinkled with the chopped apricot kernels. The three together were symphonic. Clearly the kitchen gods were in a fine mood that day.

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