I was preparing to make my favorite apricot tart for dessert tonight when I stopped, as though held back by an invisible hand. This never happens to me. I love everything about the process of making a tart, from measuring the flour (I know, but I love to do it!), to rolling out the pastry, to fitting it into the tart pan, to inhaling the aroma of it baking. Eating it is the cherry on top.
But today I wanted something different, and that invisible hand gave me the answer. Instead of baking the fragrant apricots into a buttery pastry, I wanted to pour them over shortcake. It’s shortcake season, after all. Usually I stay traditional and top mine with strawberries that are mixed with just enough sugar to pull their juices from them, so they stain the shortcake and make it almost juicy. But today, the apricots beckoned.
Step 1 was to sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over the apricots once I’d cut them, so that their juices, too, would emerge. Then I made the shortcake, folding the dough like puff pastry to ensure its buttery tenderness.
Just before serving the shortcake I whipped the cream, added some vanilla sugar, and put in a big bowl so everyone could garnish their own. When I served the plates, conversation stopped. I knew why. What is more beautiful than a Rouge de Roussillon apricot teamed with a Mara des Bois strawberry, perched on tender shortcake, topped with a cloud of vanilla cream? Nothing, except the unbelievable flavors that follow.