Much earlier in the summer, when I had my dalliance with a fruit curd so luscious, so fragrant that I simply ate it by the spoonful, I promised to post the recipe. I said I'd do it when I'd returned home from vacation. Having been home for two solid weeks at this point, I suddenly feel that it is indeed time to get off my lazy duff and post this. This is particularly necessary since apricot season is waning (although they're still in the farmers' markets). A couple of folks have reminded me of my promise via email, so it is with great pleasure and no small measure of guilt for the delay that I finally give you Apricot Curd.
This recipe was adapted from a fun little British website called Jamworld, which is apparently aimed at folks who are competetive canners and preservers, unlike myself. The curds are referred to as "Exhibition Curds" (as far as I can tell they don't turn you into an exhibitionist -- at least the apricot curd doesn't, unless you consider dancing naked around your kitchen with a large spoonful of said curd "exhibitionism"). The main changes I made were to incorporate both fresh and dried apricots (although I also think you could use just one or the other, depending upon the season), and cutting the quantity of sugar called for in half. Jamworld's recipe has lots of complex directions to follow so that you don't even get one little air bubble in any of your preserves. Otherwise, the judges might mark you down. As you might guess, I streamlined this process quite a bit, since I myself was the only judge/jury for this particular batch of curd -- and I can live with a bubble or two in my curd, so to speak.
(approximately 6-7 small jars, 8 oz. each)
1/2 lb. plump dried apricots
2 lbs. fresh apricots
juice of one lemon
8 oz. granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 lb. unsalted butter
Soak dried apricots overnight in 1 cup of boiling water. Cook the dried fruit
until tender with their soaking water. Add the fresh apricots, cut in half and pitted. Cook until they too are tender. Place pulp in a food processor and process until you have a smooth puree. If it seems to need it, you can pass it through a sieve at this point -- or not. Place in bowl
with lemon juice, then add butter. The bowl now sits on top of/slightly inside a
saucepan, which has been filled with boiling water so that the water
level is below the bowl but not touching the bottom of the bowl. (If
the water touches the bowl then too much heat will be transferred and
cause the mixture to boil, spoiling the curd.) Add sugar to bowl. Stir
over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the bowl from the saucepan, and let the mixture cool slightly. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs well. Add a tablespoon of the cooled apricot mixure, and beat that in slowly. Keep adding spoonfuls of the fruit mix and beating lightly. Then pour the whole egg mixture back into the bowl of apricot puree and mix well. Place this improvised double boiler back on your saucepan ( you can, of course, always use a real double-boiler if you have one). Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, unitl the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove it from the heat, and fill sterilized 8 oz. jars. At this point you can process them in a boiling water bath if you wish (there's some debate about how safe it really is to try to keep homemade curds, with their egg and butter content, as a pantry-shelf food). I didn't do this, preferring to keep the jars of curd in the refrigerator, where they stay quite well for at least a month or two. You can also freeze this if your jars or containers are freezer-going. Or just dump it all in a nice big jar or container that you can keep in the fridge, and each time you pass by get yourself a nice big spoonful. It'll be gone before the month is up.