I admit that at first, I was a little deflated. No blackberries at this farmer's market, after the signs for miles along the road specifically promised me I'd find them there. Out for the rest of the season, the proprietors told me.
Then, on looking further, I found something that replaced my disappointment with joy. Fresh apricots--sometimes considered one of nature's most delightful creations. Years had gone by since I had prepared that special apricot recipe that makes the most average cook look like Paula Deen--a bit time-consuming, yes, but the results are outta-sight good.
So, amid hubby's protests of "I hope we use them up", I smugly placed a pound and a half of fresh apricots on the clerk's checkout table. I had a plan; I knew just how I'd execute it.
I first had to dig out the recipe from the brown-stained pages of my cookbook, Flavor Favorites (circa 1979), containing favorite alumni picks of Baylor U, my alma mater. As my husband says of some of my well-dogeared cookbook relics, "That doesn't represent the way we cook any more." True--many cookbooks on my shelf predate today's "cooking-light" era. You can see this as you leaf through them--recipes that are heavy on sauces and rely on canned and pre-packaged items to assemble it.
However, even yesterday's popular, fat-laden recipes can be adapted to a more health-conscious approach. Fat-free evaporated milk, the lighter Neufchatel cheese instead of cream cheese, and sugar substitute instead of regular sugar represent adaptations that can make a favorite of bygone days much more suitable to today's healthy-eating needs.
The dough for these baked fried pies is malleable, never sticks to the floured pastry board, rolls out thin, and bakes up into a delightful, flaky pastry to surround the sliced apricots that have been cooked briefly to coat themselves into a light syrup from their own juices. Drizzle a little powdered-sugar icing on top; you have a delicacy that looks as though you purchased it from the most upscale bakery. Best of all these mini-pies freeze superbly, in case you want to sample a few for now and then store them away for later company or an upcoming special event.
So to answer Hubby's concern, yes, we used them up in a heartbeat! One bite into those sweet, juicy mini pies made my find of fresh apricots all the more rewarding--even better than turning up those much-sought blackberries at a roadside stand. Best of all, Hubby took the seeds that emerged after peeling the fresh apricots and planted them in our garden. Now wouldn't that be the most exciting thing ever--if one of them actually decided to grow (to their credit, apricots are said to be even more cold-hardy than peach trees) and some day give us our own apricot orchard!
Baked Apricot Fried Pies
1 pound apricots
1 cup sugar (I use sugar substitute)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened (I use Neufchatel with less fat content)
1 cup butter, softened (I use no-salt butter)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (I use salt substitute)
About 1 cup powdered sugar (1 cup when sifted)
evaporated milk (I use fat-free)
Peel and slice apricots. Place in saucepan; pour sugar over. Cook until apricots are tender. Set aside. Blend well the cream cheese, butter, flour and salt. Chill several hours. Roll thin on a floured surface. Cut into 4-inch squares. Place 1 teaspoon apricot mixture in center of each square. Fold square in half; crimp edges. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet; bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Combine powdered sugar and enough evaporated milk to make a glaze. Drizzle over hot pies. Drizzled glaze will harden. Yield: 12-15 mini pies.