Honey-Poached Apricots: A Tesselated Dessert

I posted photos of this dessert on twitter, and a friend remarked, "tesselated." I thought she'd meant to say "titillated," as in her taste buds had been titillated or stimulated or awakened. It took me a minute more to realize she was referring to the design of the apricots on the Creme Anglaise!

This dessert is a throwback to a dinner I prepared about 10 years ago. I love any dessert with custard, fruit and toasted nuts--it's a fond (and delicious) reminder of my Greek heritage, but more about that another day. Today I'll share this honey-laced recipe, which I developed to titillate the taste buds of my friends who had dinner with me and Dewey that night. Yes, you can use peaches instead of apricots.

Honey-Poached Apricots in Honey Crème Anglaise

Will serve 6-12, depending on how you decide to serve this dish. To serve 6, use 4 apricot halves (or 2 whole apricots) per person and serve in a shallow rimmed soup bowl. For a smaller serving for 12 people, use smaller salad plates or dessert bowls and only 2 apricot halves per person. May also be served over almond angel food cake.

Honey Crème Anglaise:
3 ½ cups half and half
4 T. honey
8 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 t. vanilla essence
zest of one lemon

Crème Anglaise is a thick custard sauce typically served cold. It may be made ahead.

  • In a heavy saucepan, heat half and half and honey until the honey has dissolved, then remove from heat. 
  • Mix the eggs and sugar at high speed until creamy. 
  • Slowly incorporate about one-third of the hot half and half into the egg mixture by adding half a cup and mixing and then repeating.  This serves to temper the eggs, so that they don’t cook too quickly and make scrambled eggs.  Now whisk the egg mixture into the half and half in the saucepan.
  • Place saucepan over low to medium heat, and stir continuously with a whisk.  Continue whisking until the temperature registers 170 degrees.
  • Stir in the vanilla and lemon zest, then remove the pan from the heat. To cool the sauce, pour the Crème Anglaise into a bowl, and set the bowl into a larger bowl filled with iced water, giving it a stir periodically to avoid a skin forming on the top. 

Honey-Poached Apricots:
½ cup honey
½ cup spiced rum (like Captain Morgan’s)
¼ cup water
12 apricots, pitted & cut into halves
  • Combine honey, rum and water in a large pot over high heat. Boil until honey has dissolved.
  • Gently stir in the apricots, bring to a boil and reduce to the lowest setting. Cover with a lid and monitor. 
  • When apricots have softened but are still a bit firm, turn off the heat. After 10-15 minutes, remove apricot halves to a platter and bring the 
  • remaining liquid to a boil. Continue to cook until reduced by one-third. 
  • Allow to cool. This may be done ahead and syrup poured into a jar. 
  • Apricots can be covered with plastic wrap and stored on the counter.

fresh raspberries
1 cup toasted chopped pistachios or almonds (as much or as little as you wish)

To Assemble:
  • Pour Crème Anglaise into bowl.
  • Place apricot halves onto the custard and garnish with a raspberry in between for contrast.
  • Spoon some of the syrup over the fruit.
  • Sprinkle lightly with toasted nuts.