Our local market is brimming with a range of dried fruit and nuts right now. The almond meal looks so fresh, and the dried apricots are plump and brightly coloured. I’m inspired to create an apricot and almond tray bake, made more decadent with a generous topping of dark chocolate ganache, scattered with toasted flaked almonds.
(Makes 8 – 10 squares)
For the apricots:
12 dried apricots, each sliced into several lengths
1 tbs brandy
½ cup boiling water
Pinch bicarb of soda
For the batter:
2/3 cup plain unsweetened Greek-style yoghurt
2 large free range eggs
¼ cup soft brown sugar
½ cup caster sugar
1/8 tsp almond essence
Zest of half a lemon
¼ cup almond meal
¾ cup self-raising flour
For the topping:
150g dark Belgian cooking chocolate
150g thickened cream
1/3 cup toasted flaked almonds
Grease and line a 24cm x 18cm baking tray. Preheat oven to 200C, or 180C fan forced.
In a heatproof bowl, pour boiling water over combined sliced apricots, bicarb of soda and brandy. Stir, then set aside and steep for 20 minutes. Drain, pat dry. Dust apricot slices lightly in flour to coat: this will prevent them from clumping or sinking during baking.
Whisk together yoghurt, eggs, sugars, almond essence, lemon zest until smooth and well combined. With a large metal spoon, gently fold in flour, almond meal and apricots until just combined: do not overwork.
Pour batter into baking tray and level top. Bake in centre of oven for 25-35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove after 5 minutes and allow to cool on a rack, over a clean work area.
Meanwhile, roughly chop cooking chocolate into small pieces and place into a heatproof bowl. Bring cream to the boil over a low-medium heat. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Allow to stand for two minutes, then stir gently until well combined. Allow to cool until thick enough to coat, then spread evenly over tray bake with offset spatula or palette knife. Sprinkle generously with toasted almonds. Carefully transfer to a serving plate when ganache is set. Cut into squares and serve with your favourite hot drink.