550 gm (2½ cups) raw caster sugar1vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped16 small apricots, halved60 ml dessert wineJuice and thinly peeled rind of 1 orange and ½ lemon90 gm (½ cup) white quinoa, rinsed4eggs200 gm butter, melted and cooled260 gm (1¾ cups) plain flour1 tsp baking powder60 gm flaked almonds, plus extra for scattering
Preheat oven to 200C. Scatter 220gm sugar and vanilla seeds in the base of a roasting pan large enough to fit apricots snugly in a single layer. Arrange apricots cut-side down in roasting pan, pressing into sugar, then turn over. Drizzle with dessert wine and citrus juices, scatter with citrus rinds and roast, spooning pan juices over apricots a few times during cooking, until golden and tender (20-25 minutes). Transfer half the apricots and 40ml pan juices to a food processor, process to a purée and set aside (reserve remaining apricots and syrup).
Meanwhile, bring quinoa, vanilla bean and 250ml water to the boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce heat to medium and simmer until liquid evaporates and quinoa is tender (12-15 minutes). Drain through a fine sieve to remove any remaining liquid, then spread on a tray to cool and dry (15-20 minutes; discard vanilla bean).
Preheat oven to 180C. Whisk eggs and remaining sugar in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy (6-8 minutes), add butter and whisk to combine. Sieve over flour and baking powder, stir to combine, stir in apricot purée, almonds and quinoa and spoon into 8 buttered and floured 200ml metal dariole moulds, smoothing tops. Scatter with extra almonds, bake until cakes are golden and centres spring back when lightly pressed (20-25 minutes). Cool in tins for 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with roast apricots and syrup.
This recipe is from the March 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.