Moscato wine has a lovely hint of apricot flavor, making this pairing pure stone fruit genius.
Apricots in Syrup
- 2 pounds apricots, halved (4 pits reserved)
- 1 cup Moscato wine
- 1 cup water
- Scant 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons orange flower honey or other light honey
- 4 cardamom pods, cracked 1 vanilla bean, split
- 2 (1-inch) strips lemon peel
- 1 2⁄3 cups heavy cream
- 1⁄4 cup vanilla sugar
- 1 (1⁄2-inch) strip orange peel
- Pinch saffron, crumbled
- Dash salt
- 1 1⁄3 cups buttermilk
- Scant 1 1⁄2 teaspoons granulated gelatin
- 2 tablespoons orange flower honey
- 2 teaspoons orange flower water
- Handful pistachios or almonds, lightly toasted and chopped, for garnish
To prepare the apricots, crack open the pits, using a hammer or back of a heavy frying pan to get at the kernels. Soak the kernels in water for 15 minutes. In a saucepot, bring the Moscato wine, water, sugar, honey, and cardamom to a boil. Scrape in the vanilla seeds, and drop in the pod and the kernels. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Add the apricots and poach for 2 minutes, until they just begin to soften.
Transfer the apricots with a slotted spoon to a glass bowl. Bring the Moscato syrup back to a boil and simmer rapidly until thick and syrupy, about 15 minutes more. Pour the hot syrup and spices over the apricots. Chill thoroughly before serving.
To make the panna cotta, heat the cream, sugar, orange peel, saffron, and salt in a small saucepan to just under a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and steep for 30 minutes.
Place the cold buttermilk in a bowl and sprinkle with the gelatin, swirling a few times until dissolved. Rewarm the custard and stir in the buttermilk mixture and the honey. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, until it begins to thicken. Strain the custard into a bowl set over ice. Whisk a few times, until cool. Stir in the orange flower water.
Transfer the custard to a measuring cup and divide evenly among 4 to 6 molds—teacups work well—or other shallow ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until set.
To unmold, wrap a warm towel around the bottom of each cup or ramekin for 30 seconds or so, then slide the tip of a thin knife around the edges of the custard to loosen from inside the bowl. Turn over onto chilled plates.
Spoon 2 to 3 poached apricot halves around the custards, drizzling each with some syrup. Dust a bit of chopped pistachio over the top of each.