Every week, we’re unearthing Heirloom Recipes -- dishes that have made their way from one generation's kitchen to the next.
Some of my fondest childhood memories involve visiting my grandmother in Wespelaar, Belgium. I was constantly on her heels, zipping between her beautiful garden and the kitchen where she cooked up recipes that still remain in our family to this day. Those cherished experiences in her abundant garden are what inspired me to one day start my own.
This simple and delicious summer dessert has been a staple in my family for generations. My grandmother would combine fresh fruit from the garden (in Belgium, this often meant apples, pears, and berries), a dash of honey, crème fraîche from her cellar (or kelder in Dutch), and a sprinkling of her favorite amaretti cookies. To my mom, this was both a taste of the seasons and of home.
After my mother moved to the States, she quickly discovered that her local supermarket didn’t carry the same basic goods as home. When she would make this for us, sour cream replaced crème fraîche, and the honey came from a plastic bear rather than my grandmother's beehive. But my mother happily took advantage of California’s abundance of stone fruit in place of traditional Belgian fruits.
I’m now able to recreate this dessert in the tradition of both my mother and grandmother -- California crème fraîche, local honey, and stone fruit from my garden (or the local farmers' market). Making this dessert, I understand my mother’s longing to make an emotional connection between that garden in Wespelaar and her new life in Newport Beach.
Recipes evolve with generations, so I’ve begun making the amaretti cookies from scratch with my daughters. The recipe below is incredibly easy, and the results are well worth it -- a cookie that’s just the right mix of chewy and crunchy.
I use apricots in this variation, but any type of stone fruit works just as well. Keep your eyes peeled for Blenheim apricots: They’re the smallest and sweetest variety.
6 small apricots (look for Blenheim), sliced into eight segments
4 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup crème fraîche
4 to 6 amaretti cookies, crushed
8 mint leaves, torn in pieces