I’d like to make an apricot mousseline buttercream. In The Cake Bible, Rose has a recipe for apricot puree made from dried apricots, which she says is supposed to be richer in hue and more flavorful than puree made from fresh apricots. I just made the puree today, and it just didn’t please me all that well. I pressed it through the finest strainer I had, and while I could taste no grittiness or lumps in the finished product, it was just very thick, sweet, and almost starchy and you could tell it was made from dried, not fresh fruit. I then tried to adjust the flavor by putting in a lot of lemon juice—from 2 whole large lemons in fact! Then it got a little bit too tart, so I added some sugar back in. I fixed the balance between sweet and tart, but it doesn’t taste as intensely of apricot as I would like and still has a somewhat unappealing texture. Anyone else had similar experiences with the apricot puree?
But anyway, my ultimate goal is to try incorporating it in a mousseline buttercream. I suppose the thick starchy texture won’t matter as much once it’s mixed in with the buttercream. I wouldn’t be eating the puree straight like that anyway. I’ll probably need to add more lemon juice to the mousseline buttercream to liven up the flavor. I am concerned about using the puree in buttercream, because Rose gives a little warning about apricot puree tending to slighlty curdle the Classic/Neoclassic Buttercreams. However, I am not sure if she meant a fresh or dried apricot puree, and I’m also not sure if this applies to the mousseline buttercream. In the dried apricot puree recipe, Rose says it could be swirled into buttercreams.
Has anyone used the puree in buttercreams, and what tips can you offer me?
I have made the apricot mousseline several times, and it has been wonderful. I like to make an apricot-vanilla mousseline, adding a bit of vanilla extract in addition to the puree.
For the puree, if you use california apricots, rather than turkish, it will have good flavor and acidity. One of the nationally distributed brands is california, sun maid. Makes a huge difference in flavor.
I haven’t tried to make apricot classic/neoclassic buttercream.
Ah yes…I used Turkish apricots from Trader Joe’s. They did have some California varieties like Blenheim, but those didn’t have good color and the unsulfured ones were brown and definitely couldn’t be used at all. Would the texture still be very thick and starchy (almost like baby food) with the California apricots? It seems like that would probably be so, since we are still using dried fruit.
Seems like I will have to go buy some California apricots now and make another batch of puree. I guess I’ll throw the Turkish puree in my yogurt or something…
I did a little more research on dried apricot puree. It sounds a lot like lekvar, and Rose also has a recipe for Apricot Lekvar in The Pie and Pastry Bible. The lekvar recipe is not strained and involves further cooking of the puree to thicken. It does sound like that would have a more intense flavor than the puree. Which would be better in a buttercream?
The two products (lekvar and puree) are very similar, a big part of the reason that the lekvar has less moisture is that it is used in pastry to coat pie crust, which needs to be moisture-proofed. I would think that the moister puree would be a better texture for adding to mousseline.
Also, from a taste standpoint you need to take into account how the buttercream will pair with the cake you are making. If you use a stronger-tasting apricot product than what is called for, or use more than is called for, it might not blend well with the strength of flavor that the cake has. I have added the apricot puree, as written with sun maid apricots (which are sulphured) and a bit of vanilla, to mousseline, which I then paired with the sour cream butter cake. It was a very nice pairing.
I went looking for dried California apricots today. Safeway had them but sold them only in 6 oz bags at an unreasonable price, so I went to Trader Joe’s again hoping that this time their California apricots would be better. When last I went, their California apricots had a very dull color. Well, I am happy to report that I had much better luck this time. Trader Joe’s had Extra Choice Blenheim apricots in stock, and they had a lovely deep orange color and looked very moist as well. They were twice as expensive as the Turkish apricots, but when I tasted them, wow—almost a completely different fruit! They were intensely tart and apricoty, exactly the flavor I was looking for. To think, all these years being a Californian, and I had never tasted a Californian dried apricot. I’ve always used Turkish or Mediterranean apricots for scones, granolas, and other things, and they worked well in those applications. But when it came to the puree, the Turkish apricots just didn’t cut it. I suppose now I won’t need all those lemons for the puree with the California apricots. They are quite tart.
I’ll be making the puree again for the buttercream. I’m planning a cake in March. So far, the plan is a classic genoise filled with lemon or Seville orange curd and candied kumquats and frosted with apricot mousseline perfumed with a bit of orange blossom water. I’ll syrup the genoise with Frangelico, since hazelnut goes well with apricots. If the apricot puree is thick enough, I may even brush the cake layer with a bit of the puree before I put on the curd. I candied some clementine peels and turned them into roses, so that’s ready to go as decoration. I’m trying to gradually make the components in advance and freeze them, so when the time comes, I just need to defrost, bake the cake, and put everything together.
Bella Viva orchards (in California) (http://www.bellaviva.com) sells/ships absolutely amazing dried California apricots (and many other fruits)—both organic and regular. Last I knew, they grew and dried all of their own fruit, except for a bit that their neighbors grew. They have a really high quality product.
Another question came up. I was looking up apricot puree in the forum, and one of Julie’s previous posts mentioned that one cannot add too much apricot puree to the buttercream because it is so thick that it can break the emulsion. What would be a sensible amount to add to a full mousseline recipe? I was thinking somewhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup….too much, too little?
You can add as much fruit puree/curd as the recipe calls for- I think it is 3/4 cup for one batch of mousseline. First time I made it I loved it so much I tried to add quite a bit more than that. That was also when I learned about balancing the strength of flavor of the frosting with the cake base.
Thanks Julie! Have you tried the dried fruit puree technique with other fruits as well? Which ones work well? I have some dried blueberries from Costco, and they taste quite more flavorful than fresh blueberries (although they are much sweeter than apricots). I’m wondering if the puree technique would work for that.