Fine Cooking

August/September 2012

Fine Cooking Aug-Sep 2012 / JillHough.com

Make It Tonight column
Just 30 minutes to dinner, start to finish

Apricot-Vanilla Sparkling Wine Floats
A grown-up take on a root beer float, this dessert is elegant yet playful, and a great way to enjoy stonefruit season.

Serves 6

1/2 vanilla bean
1 lb. ripe apricots, pitted and cut into bite-sized pieces (about 3 cups)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt
About 1 1/2 pints vanilla ice cream
1 750-ml bottle sweet or off-dry sparkling wine (such as Asti Spumante), chilled

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape the seeds into a 3-quart saucepan, and add the vanilla bean, apricots, sugar, lemon juice, 1/8 tsp. salt, and 2 Tbs. water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apricots are very tender, 3 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath by filling a large metal bowl with a few inches of ice and water. Have ready a second metal bowl that will fit into the ice bath.

Transfer the apricot mixture to the second bowl and put the bowl in the ice bath. Stir occasionally until cool, about 5 minutes. Discard the vanilla bean and puree the apricot mixture in a food processor.

Place two small scoops of the ice cream in each of 6 tall, narrow 14- to 16-oz. glasses. Top each with about 2 Tbs. of the apricot sauce. Repeat with another layer of ice cream and sauce. Add about 1/2 cup of the sparkling wine to each glass. Serve immediately, with straws and spoons.

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Honeyed Fig and Goat Cheese Tart
This is a simple but stunning way to enjoy fresh figs. When figs aren’t available, you can make this tart with other fresh fruit, such as apricots, pears, or strawberries.

Serves 6 to 8

Unbleached all-purpose flour, for dusting
1 sheet (half of a 17.3-oz. package) frozen puff pastry, thawed overnight in the refrigerator
4 oz. fresh goat cheese, softened
1/4 cup honey (preferably dark)
8 ripe fresh figs (6 if large), preferably 4 black and 4 green, stemmed and quartered lengthwise
1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
Kosher salt

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 475°F.

Lightly dust a sheet of parchment with flour. Unfold the pastry, place on top of the parchment, and lightly dust with flour. Roll out the pastry to a 10-inch square. Prick all over with a fork at 1/2-inch intervals. Make a 3/4-inch border on all sides by pressing the edge of a ruler into the pastry to mark it. Fold the pastry over at the markings to make a double-thick rim. Transfer the pastry on the parchment to a rimmed baking sheet. (The pastry can be prepared up to this point a few hours ahead and kept in the refrigerator. Bake until the center is golden-brown and puffed, about 9 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the goat cheese and 2 Tbs. of the honey in a medium bowl.

Spread the cheese mixture inside the border of the puff pastry. Arrange the figs on top of the cheese, alternating colors if you like. Sprinkle with the rosemary and 1/8 tsp. salt. Bake until the rim of the pastry is pastry is golden-brown, about 7 minutes.

Drizzle with the remaining 2 Tbs. of honey and cool for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.