Like me, you might find yourself right in the midst of holiday parties. They’re fun, they’re festive, and they can be exhausting, particularly if you’re doing the hosting. We’ve been hitting our share of holiday cocktail parties, but we prefer to host actual dinner parties, where guests come around 5:30pm, enjoy some wine and hors d’oeuvres for the first hour, segue to dinner around 7:00pm and go home by 9:00pm or 10:00pm, depending on whether they have little ones in tow.
I typically serve a cheese, cracker and charcuterie platter with one other hors d’oeuvre–something that’s a little fancier because of its ingredients or because it requires some assembly. My basic offering includes a three-cheese selection, such as Manchego, Triple Cream Brie and Stilton with a selection of crackers, one or two kinds of salami and maybe sopressata along with a small dish of cashews or Marcona almonds.
But above and beyond unwrapping a few chunks of cheese and slicing some salami, my favorite go-to hors d’oeuvres are apricots spread with a basil-goat cheese and topped with Marcona or herb-infused almonds. They look elegant, taste delicious and are a cinch to prepare. I also love that they work as hors d’oeuvres summer, winter, fall or spring. They always get gobbled up and exclaimed over, which is just what you want guest to do when they’re in your home, right?
Please note: I considered buying conventional apricots (treated with sulfur to keep their orange color) because they certainly photograph better, but I just couldn’t reconcile having a “health and wellness” blog and showing something laced with chemicals just because it looks prettier. Conventional apricots also have a sharper, sometimes slightly bitter taste, whereas natural untreated apricots have a subtle carmel flavor. So please focus on the wonderful flavor and texture combination, and never mind the naturally brown color of the dried apricots in my photos.
4 oz fresh, quality goat cheese, at room temperature
2-3 tsp milk
2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
40 dried apricots
40 Marcona or herb-infused almonds
Honey for drizzling
In a small bowl, mix together the cheese, milk and basil until it’s very spreadable. Thin with more milk if necessary.
Spread the cheese mixture on each apricot and top with an almond.
Drizzle all the apricots with honey and serve.