1 hour 45 minutes, plus 4 hours steeping time and churning time
Almonds are actually a stone fruit and therefore perfect partners to other stone fruits - in this case apricots. Phil Howard's recipe involves poaching the apricots in a rich liquid flavoured with chamomile, acacia honey and Sauternes wine, and serving with a creamy honey ice cream.
Phil Howard has always been a ‘chef’s chef’, quietly notching up years of service and influencing the industry immeasurably. In March 2016, he sold his iconic two Michelin-starred restaurant The Square to seek new pastures.
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First prepare the fresh almonds. Prise the almonds open with a screwdriver - through the soft spot where they were attached to the tree. Remove the nuts, peel off the skins and set aside, covered, somewhere cool
100 fresh almonds, approximately
To poach the apricots, pour the water into a large, heavy-based ovenproof pan, and bring to the boil
500ml of water
Add the chamomile, sugar and honey. Return to the boil, remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for 5 minutes
30g of dried chamomile flowers
350g of caster sugar
30g of acacia honey
Preheat the oven to 110°C/gas mark 4
Pass the syrup through a fine sieve and return to the pan. Add the Sauternes and bring back to the boil
500ml of Sauternes wine
Cut the apricots in half along the groove. Twist them apart and remove the stone
30 apricots, plump
Add the apricot halves to the pan, turn the heat down and return the syrup to a simmer. Cover with a lid or cartouche and place in the oven for 20 minutes or until the apricots are tender, stirring half way through cooking. Remove from the oven and leave the apricots to cool in the syrup
Once the apricots are cool enough to handle, carefully lay them out, one at a time, and slip off the skin, then return them to the syrup
Leave the apricots to steep for at least 4 hours. Store in the fridge until required, keeping the apricots in their syrup
Lay out the 16 least attractive, overly soft apricot halves and crush them to a pulp with a fork
Set aside to drain in a sieve for 30 minutes before pouring into a bowl. Chill until needed
For the honey ice cream, combine the milk and cream in a heavy-based pan and bring to the boil
500ml of whole milk
100ml of double cream
Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a large bowl. Pour the boiling milk onto the egg yolks, whisk to combine and pour back into the pan
120g of egg yolk
75g of caster sugar
Cook gently over a low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the temperature reaches 84°C - the custard should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon
Pass through a fine sieve into a bowl. Whisk in the honey then leave to cool. Cover and chill
300g of acacia honey
No more than 2 hours before serving, whisk 30ml of the apricot poaching liquor into the custard. Churn the ice cream then store in the freezer
For the beurre noisette for the almonds, melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat until it starts to foam. When the butter is still a rich yellow colour but gives off a nutty aroma, pour through a fine sieve into a frying pan and set aside
100g of unsalted butter
To serve, in separate pans, warm through both the poached apricots in their syrup and the crushed apricots
Place the pan of beurre noisette over a medium heat, add the almonds and toss for a minute or two - or until they release a nutty aroma. Remove from the heat and keep warm
Lay out 8 warmed shallow bowls. Divide the crushed apricots between the bowls, then lay the apricot halves over the top with a little drizzle of the syrup
Place 3 small scoops of ice cream on top of the fruit in each bowl, scatter almonds over the top and finish with a little drizzle of beurre noisette
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