Chocolate and apricot is one of those flavour combinations that connects me to a special memory. We were on holiday in Scotland in March 2006 and for some strange reason I was surprised that it was cold – so cold that we did most of our windswept castle viewing from the car.
Why did we travel to Scotland in winter? I still don’t know. It was a plan entered into with no forethought and on paper it was a disaster: an arctic wind kept us huddled indoors, most castles were shuttered for the season, every other road was blocked for road works, my boot tore at the seam and my one sock was constantly wet, our car got stuck in the snow. Somehow we had an amazing time.
On a whim we drove north (where it’s even colder!) to Inverness and knocked on b&b doors until we found one that had a room available. The sun had long since set and the city lights reflected darkly on the river Ness. We followed the directions given to us by the proprietor of the b&b to a small restaurant with fogged windows and tea lights on the tables.
The waiter was rude, but the food was delicious, particularly by British standards at the time, so we stayed and ate dessert, chocolate cake with apricot. It’s a small slice of what I enjoy most about travel, not knowing in the morning where you’ll be at night. When we woke that morning we didn’t know we’d spend the evening eating chocolate cake in Inverness under the critical scrutiny of a malodorous French waiter, and it made us laugh.
In all of our travels it doesn’t really rank as an adventure or even a particularly interesting experience, but whenever I see an apricot I think of that night and of the thrill of traveling without a plan.
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cups chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350C and butter an 8X8 inch pan, line bottom with parchment paper
2. Melt butter and add sugar
3. In food processor pulse dry ingredients with apricots until mixture resembles fine crumbs
4. Once butter and sugar mixture has cooled to room temperature whisk in eggs and vanilla
5. Create a well in centre of dry mixture, pour in egg mixture and stir to combine
6. Pour mixture into baking pan (optional: top with chocolate and walnuts)
7. Bake for 25 minutes