About 10 years ago, on her television show, I’d seen Sara Moulton, chef and cookbook author, make these tasty appetizers and I’ve been making them ever since. I love the look of these arranged neatly on a white platter —the sparkly, crackly shells of the candied walnut halves gleaming under the shine of drizzled honey. I think that colors are fantastic as well. I love how the creamy white cheese, which sits on top of the amber-colored “coin” shaped dried apricots, is dotted with the green from the thyme. Over the years I’ve added, subtracted and substituted the various ingredients depending on what I have on hand, keeping in mind the three components that I think make these so tasty— sweet and chewy dried Turkish apricots; creamy, herb-infused goat cheese; and candied spicy nuts. The recipe that follows is how I last went about making them. Make sure that your dried thyme is as fresh as dried thyme can be. By that I mean it should still be very fragrant and heady with the smell of thyme and bright green. If your thyme has turned brown from aging in the back of your cupboard, buy a new bottle or use fresh. If you go the fresh thyme route, triple the amount of thyme. So, in this case use about a tablespoon of fresh.
Since the ingredients for this aren’t seasonal, these can be made at anytime of year. Though, I think fall and winter are the most appropriate time to serve these.
2 cups dried Turkish apricots
2 cups spicy candied walnuts halves (recipe here)
honey for drizzling
For the spread
4-6 ounces Chèvre (creamy goat’s cheese), preferably room temperature
1 ½ teaspoon good dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Start by making the spread. To make the spread, combine the Chèvre, thyme and sea salt with a rubber spatula or whisk until creamy (working with room temperature goats cheese will make this much easier). Though it’s not necessary, for best results cover and refrigerate the mixture and allow the flavors to develop for 2 hours. During this time you can prepare the candied walnuts.
To assemble, place a small amount of the Chèvre (about ½-1 teaspoon) on each of the apricots. Then, crown each of the Chèvre-anointed apricots with a candied walnut half and drizzle with honey. Serve immediately
Make the candied walnuts and spread a day in advance and assemble an hour before serving.