There’s not much that can’t be salvaged with butter. Here, it’s tinned apricots: thrown into a hot pan until they begin to char, then glazed with molten butter and maple syrup. Served with a tangy, silken buttermilk panna cotta, these precious little orbs are enough single-handedly to salvage the reputation of untrendy tinned fruit. You can replace the apricots with pears or even pineapple, if that’s what you’ve got lurking at the back of the cupboard. Just treat them with respect. And butter.
- 2-4 gelatine leaves or vegetarian gelatine (gelatine varies in strength, so use enough to set a half-pint of liquid (285ml), according to the packet; you want a soft set for this panna cotta)
- 150ml double cream
- 300ml buttermilk
- 100g caster sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 x 400g tin apricot halves in light syrup
- 25g butter
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp toasted flaked almonds, to serve (optional)
Cut the gelatine into pieces and put in a bowl of cold water. Leave for five minutes, during which time they’ll transform from brittle shards to soft, slippery slivers.
Drain the gelatine, squeeze out any excess water, then put in a small pan with the cream. Set over a low heat, and stir continuously until the very first bubbles just start rising to the surface. Immediately turn off the heat, add the buttermilk, sugar and lemon juice, and whisk until smooth. Taste for sweetness and acidity, adding a little extra sugar or lemon accordingly.
Divide the mixture between four lightly greased ramekins or individual pudding basins, then put in the fridge to cool and set for two to three hours.
Just before you’re ready to serve, drain the apricots and pat dry with kitchen towel. Heat a nonstick frying pan or griddle on a medium-high flame and, once hot, lay in the apricot halves cut side down (if using a griddle, brush the fruit with a little oil first). Leave to colour and char for a minute or so, then flip over and cook for a minute more. Add the butter and maple syrup, then swirl around the pan to coat the apricot in the rich syrup.
To unmould the panna cottas, dip the ramekins in hot water for 20-30 seconds, then carefully flip out on to a plate. Serve the cool, quivering cream with the hot apricots, scattering over a few toasted flaked almonds for crunch, if you wish.
Food stylist: Emily Kydd. Prop stylist: Jennifer Kay.