Can be prepared in 45 minutes or less.
1 cup sugar
4 cups water
1 cup firmly packed dried apricots (about 6 ounces)
2 teaspoons vanilla
In a dry heavy saucepan (about 3-quart capacity) cook sugar over moderate heat, stirring with a fork until melted and then swirling the pan, until sugar is a golden caramel.
Remove pan from heat and carefully add 3 cups water down the side of pan (it will bubble up and steam). Return pan to heat and simmer, stirring until caramel is dissolved.
Add apricots and simmer, covered, until soft, about 10 minutes.
Cool mixture 10 minutes and in a blender purée with remaining 1 cup water and vanilla until very smooth. Sauce may be made 3 days ahead and chilled, covered.
Reheat sauce to warm.
Makes about 5 cups.