Growing up in the central valley of California, almost everybody we knew had a fruit-bearing tree at their house.  My parents grew pomegranates, plums and citrus (not to mention a garden lush with tomatoes, garlic, squash and a lot more) but I always looked forward to the days when we'd swap something out for a big bag of apricots.  Those sweet little gems were and still are among my favorite things to eat with their peach-like sweetness, soft texture and fuzzy skin.

We've been getting apricots by the bagful from our CSA and they are delectably ripe and sweet.  I save the firmer ones for eating by themselves.  The softer ones are better for cooking - anything from jams and chutneys to meat marinades or desserts.  Apricot adds a bright, summer sweetness to a huge diversity of recipes.

Lately I have been experimenting with different ways to make Flaugnarde.  Some of you may be more familiar with the dessert called Clafoutis, which is traditionally made with cherries (if you really want to make it authentic, un-pitted cherries).  The same method applied to any other fruit is Flaugnarde and if you are a fan of fruit-forward and only slightly sweet desserts, this recipe is definitely for you.  The egg batter puffs up like a souffle as it bakes and then sinks down again as it cools to create a firm, almost custard-like texture.  By itself, it's lightly sweet and eggy with lots of crunchy almond.  With the rich and fruity glaze it becomes a rather elegant dessert.  Have the leftovers without the glaze for breakfast the next morning, as this dish will only keep for a day or so.  But let's face it, we probably would have finished the leftovers in one day, anyway! 

Apricot-Almond Flaugnarde with Brown Butter Apricot Glaze
serves 6

3/4 cup slivered almonds
1 T butter
2 1/2 cups ripe apricots, sliced into small wedges
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 tsp almond extract

3 T salted butter
1 cup ripe apricot halves
agave or honey, to taste

Heat the oven to 375.  Arrange almonds on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast in the oven until lightly golden, about 6-8 minutes.  Keep the oven on and set almonds aside.

Butter a 9" pie pan or square baking dish and arrange apricot slices on the bottom of the dish.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and sugar with a whisk.  Beat in the eggs, then gradually add the half and half and almond extract, whisking until smooth.

Pour the batter over the apricots and sprinkle the almonds over the top.  Bake in the 375-degree oven for about 45 minutes.  Allow to cool at least 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze.  Add the butter to a small pan over medium-high heat.  Cook the butter, stirring often, until foam subsides and the butter solids get toasted and brown, about 8-10 minutes.  Add apricots and cook, mashing the fruit with a wooden spoon, until they gently caramelize on the outside, about 5 minutes.  Add a splash of agave or honey and puree mixture with an immersion blender (if your apricots aren't super-ripe you may need to add a little water to thin the glaze).  Taste and add more sweetener if necessary.  If you like it on the less-sweet side it will amount to about 3 T of sweetener.