Say goodbye to summer with a cool, sophisticated apricot tortoni, the perfect end-of-summer dessert

Fresh Apricots Getty Images/GSPictures
Fresh Apricots Getty Images/GSPictures

Bibi Hutchings, a lifelong Southerner, lives along a quiet coastal Alabama bay with her cat, Zulu, and husband, Tom. She writes about the magical way food evokes memories, instantly bringing you back to the people, places and experiences of your life. Her stories take you all around the South and are accompanied with tried-and-true recipes that are destined to become a part of your memory-making as you share them with your friends and family.

Fresh apricots are a late-summer fruit where I live in the coastal South and have always signified summer's grand finale. Even their deep sunset-orange hue says fall is right around the corner — hold on, relief from this heat is coming. 

I think this Apricot Tortoni is the perfect crossover dessert for late summer and early fall and a nice departure from the many lemon and berry variations I crave throughout June and July. By now, near the end of August, I am ready for something different — different flavors, different weather, a different wardrobe!

But what I am most ready for is cooler temperatures; though I'm afraid sweater weather is still a fair distance away. 

This frozen tortoni is refreshing yet somehow cozy — perfect for this time of year. Because of the almonds and almond extract, you might think you taste Amaretto. There isn't any, but the taste still conjures up chillier evenings sitting fireside curled up with an after-dinner coffee. 

The toasty, slightly salty, almond-y crumb provides texture and a contrast of flavor to the other sweet, creamy layers; and the fresh but more complex taste of the apricot preserves gives each bite a sharp pop. The preserves, set off by the whiter shades of the cream and crumb, also create lovely swirls of color and are just the pumpkin-y shade of orange your autumn-desiring self wants to see. I love the way it looks. 

Once the kids are back in school, cooler weather is soon to follow, right? Surely any day now this relentless heat wave that has flip-flopped all over the country with its ever expanding heat dome — at times solidly stretched from coast to coast — will have to come to an end. I can almost smell the pumpkin spice and apple cake, but there is a chance I am hallucinating because of this heat!

Summer 2023 was one for the record books for sure, between El Niño, solar fluctuations and a massive underwater volcanic eruption (?!?!?), there is a lot to unpack and wrap your head around if you want to understand why this year's heat has felt so different from years prior. I have tried to educate myself as I sweltered these last months in southern Alabama. I read about the Tongo volcano, what's happening with the sun and how we are entering into the strongest El Niño we have had since 2016.

I admit, my self-study proved to be pretty darn anxiety-producing.

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My friend, a landscaper who works outside everyday, told me last week we have two more weeks of this intense heat. He spoke with great conviction, like he knew it to be true as he brought his hand to his Mother Mary pendant, so I am counting the days and hoping he's right. 

In the meantime, Christina Tosi's book title, Dessert Can Save the World has inspired me to keep whipping up treats and refreshments as my way of shifting the energy in my small corner of the world. It's the idea that there is a ripple effect from acts of kindness, of making someone's day better, or in my case, sharing something delicious and homemade that creates a shift away from feeling overwhelmed by all the scary stuff happening in the world. It doesn't make any of it go away per se, but it provides space for a well-needed break.

I won't say this Apricot Tortoni can save the world, but it will bring you and whoever you share it with a reprieve from all the media headlines that stress and unnerve because all of that will be set aside while you eat and enjoy this incredibly delicious dessert. 

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