JO-ANNE Shadlock wrote in asking about a dessert that layers chocolate crumbs, icing, apricot purée and cream. This is a perennial Recipe Swap favourite, but I think it's worth revisiting because it gets such a big response, often from readers who have been making it for over 40 years (and always get asked for the recipe). Thanks to Linda Johnson from Lac du Bonnet for her version, which is printed below, and thanks also to Sylvia Gabriel, Fay Ernst, Derrelyn Reinfort, Cynthia Slevin, Mary Sexsmith and Dorothy Slidders. I also liked Cindy Brownlee's version, which uses vanilla wafers rather than chocolate and is irresistibly called Apricot Smooch.
Just for fun I checked out a different kind of no-bake apricot dessert from a New Zealand recipe swap site. This popular slice was originally made with fresh apricots, when homemakers had to find ways to use overripe fruit crops during the Second World War, when most fruit pickers were working for the war effort.
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Chocolate apricot slice
1x 200 g package thin chocolate wafers (or 1 1/4 cup chocolate wafer crumbs)
57 g (1/4 cup) butter, softened
114 g (1/2 cup) butter, softened
375 ml (1 1/2 cups) icing sugar
213 ml (7.2 oz) strained apricot baby food (about 2 small jars or 1 large jar)
250 ml (1 cup) whipping cream
Crush wafers and combine with 57 g (1/4 cup) softened butter. Press crumb mixture into a 22x22 cm (9x9 in) square pan, setting aside 30-45 ml (2-3 tbsp) crumb mixture for topping. Cream 114 g (1/2 cup) butter, add egg and icing sugar, and whip until light and fluffy. Spread evenly over crumb base. Spread apricots over icing layer. Place whipping cream in a chilled bowl and whip until stiff. Spread over apricot layer. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs and refrigerate at least 12 hours. Store in refrigerator.
Tester's notes: This dessert is probably a hit because of all the layers of complementary textures and tastes. The recipe uses apricot baby food, which might sound weird but really is just apricot purée made with very little added sugar or salt. The required refrigeration times vary in the recipes -- some recommend 24 hours, but you can get away with four if necessary.
I would also refrigerate the crumb crust a little to set it and make spreading the icing layer easier. You might want to add just a touch of icing sugar to the whipping cream, but you don't need much, as the rest of the dessert is sweet enough. (A food safety note: This dessert contains uncooked eggs. Health Canada advises against consuming raw eggs, but if you do so, exercise precautions. Use a fresh egg without cracks, make sure the dessert stays refrigerated, and consume within 3 days. As well, raw eggs should not be served to the elderly, the very young, pregnant women, or anyone with a compromised immune system. If you're concerned about using raw egg, you could make a standard buttercream by creaming the butter and icing sugar and adding a little milk or cream to get a spreading consistency. )
New Zealand apricot slice
150 g (1 1/4 cup) dried apricots, finely chopped
60 ml (1/4 cup) orange juice
75 g (1/3 cup) butter
150 ml (2/3 cup) sweetened condensed milk (half a 300 ml can)
125 ml (1/2 cup) brown sugar
250 g digestive biscuits (about 22 standard biscuits)
125 ml (1/2 cup) coconut, plus extra for decorating
Prepare a 20x20 cm (8x8 in.) baking pan by greasing, lining with parchment paper and greasing again. In a medium heavy pot, heat the apricots with orange juice over low heat until the liquid is absorbed, about 2-3 minutes. Add butter and stir until melted. Add condensed milk and brown sugar and cook over low heat, stirring, until mixture is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Using a food processor or a rolling pin, make the digestive biscuits into crumbs and add to apricot mixture, along with 125 ml (1/2 cup) coconut. Sprinkle some coconut on the bottom of the prepared pan, add the apricot mixture, press in, and sprinkle with more coconut. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cutting, and store the slice in an airtight container in the fridge.
Tester's notes: This is sweet and tasty. It would be good for a tea break or for kids' lunches.