I feel like I have been holding onto this recipe forever, and have been waiting patiently this spring for for the key ingredients to come into season. I made my first batch last year with the most perfect apricots I had ever seen, and somehow created spreadable gold. I sent that batch off in care packages to some lovely people in my life (and some powerhouses in the kitchen at that!), and have been longing for it ever since. So, I am excited to say that after much stalking, I found the apricots and was able to recreate the recipe, and it is just as I remember, smooth in texture and complex in flavor.
Look at these beautiful apricots, burt orange, firm, and juicy…these were grown locally here in Connecticut. The red-orange shows they have been exposed to that mid-late spring heat and are now sweet and delicious, and ready to eat.
Apricot and cracked pepper spread
1 ½ lb (10-12) in season apricots
juice of ½ lemon
1 tsp kosher salt
1-2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1/3 cup clover honey
½ tsp natural pectin, or the skin of 1 apple.
Pit and dice apricots. In a large pan over medium-high heat, cook down apricots in lemon juice, stirring frequently. Add salt pinch by pinch, using approx 1 tsp. Allow to simmer and the apricots to break apart. Stir in honey. Add pepper until there is an even distribution of cracked pepper flakes. Simmer for 2-5 more minutes, to cook off any extra liquid. Turn off heat and stir in pectin and let stand for about 10 minutes. Mixture should be thick and spredable.
Serve with rustic crackers and cheeses, I love a good gorgonzola and whole wheat crackers with this spread.
**Note: Pectin is used to get the spread to set up just a bit. However, I tend to shy away from packaged pectin. Pectin is a natural substance found in woody fruit such as apples, so why not use what we have! I peel an apple, and throw in the skin with the apricots at the beginning, and pick them out in the end. The spread sets up beautifully, plus I have a little snack while the spread is simmering.
I have heard that this recipe has been used anywhere from a formal Easter dinner table, to picnics on the beach, so versatile and delicious. I use it as a lovely starter to dinner with a nice glass of crisp, dry, white wine.
Cook together, toast to each other, and share!