Mousse aux Abricots

A delectable chilled apricot mousse flavoured with brandy, lemon juice, brown sugar and cinnamon, Mousse aux Abricots (mooss-oh-zah-bree-koh) may be served on its own, or sprinkled with toasted almonds or hazelnuts and served with a bowl of chilled Creme Chantilly. Fresh apricots should be used if possible for the flavour from the kernels.

1 lb. fresh apricots, washed, halved, stoned and stones reserved or

8 oz. dried apricots, soaked overnight, drained and chopped

2 oz. soft brown sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 fl. oz. water

1 teaspoon arrowroot dissolved in

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons apricot brandy

5 fl. oz. double cream , whipped until thick

3 egg whites

4 tablespoons icing sugar

Place the apricots in a medium-sized saucepan and pour over enough water to cover them. Add the lemon juice and place the pan over moderate heat. Bring the water to the boil, stirring occasionally.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer the apricots for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are tender.

Remove the pan from the heat and set the apricots aside to cool slightly.

When the apricots are cool, blend them to a puree in an electric blender. If neces-sary, add additional water so that the blender blades will not stick.

Transfer the apricot puree to a large mixing bowl and stir in the sugar. Taste and add more sugar if you like. Set aside.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with a wire whisk or rotary beater until they form stiff peaks. With a metal spoon, carefully fold the egg whites into the apricot mixture.

Spoon the mousse mixture into 6 glass serving dishes. Place the dishes in the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the blackberries and icing

On a hard surface, using a hammer, crack open the apricot stones, if you are using fresh apricots. Discard the stones and peel the skin off the kernels. Discard the skins. Coarsely chop the kernels and set them aside.

In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the apricot halves or dried apricots, the sugar, cinnamon and water.

Set the pan over moderate heat and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat to very low, cover the pan and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until the apricots are very tender and beginning to pulp.

Remove the pan from the heat. Pour the mixture into a fine wire strainer held over a medium-sized mixing bowl. Using the back of a wooden spoon, rub the apricots through the strainer until only a dry pulp is left in the strainer. Discard the pulp.

Stir the arrowroot mixture into the apricot puree. Pour the mixture back into the pan and return the pan to the heat. Cook the puree, stirring constantly, until it has thickened.

Remove the pan from the heat and set the mixture aside to cool completely.

When the mixture has cooled, stir in the chopped kernels, if you are using them, the brandy and the cream and combine the mixture thoroughly. Set aside.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with a wire whisk or rotary beater until they form stiff peaks. With a metal spoon, carefully fold the egg whites into the apricot mixture.

Spoon the mixture into a medium-sized chilled glass serving dish. Chill the mousse in the refrigerator for 2 hours before serving.

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