I love how mouth-puckering and sharp apricots are; they’re pretty much tiny little spheres of punchiness and tang. But sweeten them with a good glug of amaretto (almonds are the perfect counterpart) and top with a caramelised brown-sugar meringue and you have a simple, lavish dessert.

When picking your apricots, make sure they are firm and a rich, orangey gold. If they are insipid in colour, they’re bound to be insipid in taste. 

Helen Cathcart

Ingredients - serves 4

  • 12 fresh apricots
  • 90ml amaretto liqueur
  • 195g dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 50g flaked almonds, plus extra to scatter

The essentials

  • 60g unsalted butter 


Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7.

Halve the apricots, remove their stones and place them cut- side up in a medium-sized roasting dish. Cut the butter into small dice and sprinkle it over the apricots. Sprinkle over the liqueur and 20g of the sugar and bake for 20–25 minutes, until the apricots soften and just start to colour very slightly.

While the apricots roast, make the meringue. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, then add the remaining sugar a tablespoon at a time while whisking constantly until you have a very thick, glossy meringue. I do this on high speed in my freestanding electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, but it can be done just as easily with a handheld electric mixer. Fold the flaked almonds into the meringue, being careful not to de ate the mixture.

Once the apricots have roasted, randomly splodge the meringue over the top of them and sprinkle over more almonds, then return to the oven for a further 15–20 minutes, until the meringue is coloured and slightly crispy on top, a golden, satin matte. 

Recipe taken from John's book, Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients. Buy here