Remember the chat about the relationship between ladies-of-a-certain-age and advocaat? Well, boerenmeisjes are a little bit like that. It's not for the young, hip crowd, but more for the relaxed, laid-back older, no-nonsense generation. Boerenmeisjes are either consumed straight from the jar, with two or three pieces of fruit in a small glass with enough syrup to keep them moist, over ice cream, or puréed as an apricot sauce. You can also chop several up and fold into a Dutch apple pie filling.
Their counterpart, boerenjongens (farm boys), are brandied raisins. Equally good and served just like the girls, and a great gift. The boerenmeisjes and boerenjongens will take about four to five weeks on the shelf before they're ready.
If you choose to use fresh fruit, use apricots that are still firm to the touch. Half them, remove the pit and do not simmer for more than five minutes so as to retain their shape.
20 dried apricots
3 cups warm water
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup brandy
Soak the apricots in the warm water for twenty minutes, then pour off the remaining water into a saucepan. Add the sugar, and bring it up to a slow boil. Stir. As soon as the sugar has dissolved, add the dried apricots to the saucepan, add the cinnamon stick, and let the fruit simmer, on low heat, for fifteen minutes.
Take everything off the stove and let it cool. When it has cooled down, stir in a cup of brandy, and transfer the fruit and the cinnamon stick to a clean jar. Don't pack the fruit too tight as it will need space to soak and expand. Make sure the fruit is covered with syrup and brandy. Cover and set aside in a cool, dark place.
Once a week, check on the meisjes to make sure they are still covered. If not, add equal parts syrup and brandy, stir and cover again.
After four to five weeks, these girls are ready to be served!