Herbed Apricot Tart & Ramadan Kareem

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Qamar al deen (apricot leather) is a common ingredient found in most Middle Eastern kitchens.  My mother-in-law’s Syrian kitchen is stocked with stack upon stack of it; her favorite way to use it is to make thick, smoothie-like drinks (especially during Ramadan), but she also loves eating it as is (like candy!) or making it into pudding.

Qamar al Deen (Apricot Leather)

I bought this apricot leather at a Middle Eastern grocery store on our recent trip to NYC (I had already used up all the loot I brought home from our Middle East vacation…love this stuff!), but I’ve also seen it at a couple different Middle Eastern groceries in my area.  If you can’t find it where you live, you can probably order it online or use dried apricots instead.  Fresh apricots may work also if you feel like experimenting, just be sure to significantly reduce the amount of water (or perhaps omit it altogether) you use if you decide to go this route.

I wanted to make an apricot tart using qamar al deen and I decided to infuse it with herbs to make it a bit more special.  I used my sugar-cookie-like tart crust (that I used to make a cherry custard tart last summer), and walnuts added the perfect nutty crunch to the crumble topping.  In the end it turned out to be reminiscent of a peach cobbler.

If there is extra apricot filling, pour it into individual serving bowls and refrigerate until completely chilled.  It makes a fantastic pudding/treat for the cook.

Wishing everyone a Generous Ramadan (Ramadan Kareem)!

Herbed Apricot Tart

Yields 1 (11-inch) tart

Apricot Filling:

1/2 lb (about 250 g) dried apricot paste (qamer al deen), cut into pieces

2 cups water

1/4 cup sugar

1 large sprig basil

1 large sprig mint, plus 2 tablespoons fresh minced mint

1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water

1 large egg

Crust

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch fresh grated nutmeg

1 1/2 sticks (6 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Walnut Crumb Topping:

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch fresh grated nutmeg

2 tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

For the filling:  In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, sugar, basil, and mint and bring up to a boil; turn heat off, then cover the pot and steep herbs 2 minutes.  Remove the basil and mint with tongs, and pour the syrup over the apricot paste in a medium bowl; let it sit until cool (about 1 hour), giving it an occasional stir.  Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.  Whisk together the apricot liquid, cornstarch slurry, and egg in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, then boil 3 minutes, whisking constantly.  Turn heat off and stir in the fresh minced mint.

For the crust:  Preheat oven to 350F.  In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking powder.  Use a fork to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it looks crumbly and there are some pieces the size of peas (it should be able to come together to form a ball when you press it).  Pour the crust mixture into an 11-inch tart pan and press it along the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  Use a fork to make several pricks in the bottom of the crust, then bake for 20 minutes.  (If the crust puffs up too much while baking, just give it a few more pricks with a fork.)

For the walnut crumb topping:  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Use a fork to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it looks crumbly and there are some pieces the size of peas.  Stir in the walnuts.

Putting it together:  Pour the apricot filling into the pre-baked tart shell (if there is extra filling, pour it into individual ramekins, cool to room temperature, and then chill to serve). Sprinkle the walnut crumb topping evenly on top, place the tart pan on a larger baking pan (just for precaution, in case anything bubbles over), and bake at 350F until the tart is bubbling and the topping is starting to turn golden (about 30 minutes).

Extra Filling = The Cook’s Delight ;)

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Comments

  1. says

    What a unique dessert! Everything sounds amazing from the filling to the topping. I think tjs has a leather that may work well in this

  2. says

    How wonderful to have a Syrian mum-in-law to learn from, Faith! :-) This looks so delicious, and I love that you made a bit extra just for you. :-)

  3. says

    Wishing you the best on the first day of Ramadan daaaaaahling. May your fasts go smoothly, and may you always have such lovely treats to end the fasts with :). This is a beautiful tart. I really love pairing fruit and herbs. It gives it a bit of an edge and always adds lots of interest.
    *kisses* HH

  4. says

    Oh, so that’s what you do with apricot leather. I once got it from a Middle Eastern store on Steinway in Asotira, but didn’t realize that it needed to be rehydrated. My baking experiment was a disaster. Now I know what to do!

  5. says

    What a beautiful tart! I wonder if the fruit leathers sold at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods would work?? I recently tried to make a cream-based tart and I completely screwed it up somehow! I am not a baker, but I’m always up for a challenge ;)

  6. says

    Faith,

    Apricot leather?! Learn something new everyday. Now, I’d like to work with some.

    Lovely tart. The crust is cooked to perfection. Diggin the addition of mint and basil. Nice!

    Happy Holiday

  7. says

    Faith, you and I both have apricots on the brain. These tarts look great & I love the addition of herbs. I net this smells amazing as it bakes.

  8. says

    That is an impressive dessert! I never would have thought to use fruit leather in a recipe. I love the different things our cultures do with foods!

  9. Fiona says

    Ramadan Kareem to you and your family Faith!
    In Egypt, many people make a pudding out of Qamar al Deen, and I like it added to Khoshaf, the dried fruit compote served during Ramadan. The best Qamar al Deen is Syrian, and it can be found in Middle- Eastern stores worldwide- I found it in Scotland
    This tart is a totally new take on this interesting ingredient and I’ll be making it to serve at a Ramadan get-together very soon.
    Thanks for this interesting recipe, and looking forward to many more!

  10. says

    Wow this tart sounds amazing! I love that you infused it with herbs…definitely gives it that extra oomph to leave your tastebuds dazzled.

    Which grocery store did you go to while in NYC?

  11. says

    Your tart looks very delicious. I don;t think I have heard of apricot leather. maybe I ahve to go to specialty shop. And that last picture looks too tempting! Thanks very much for sharing. Hope you have a great week.

  12. says

    Herbs and apricot, what interesting flavours. I’m a big fan of apricots. Your herbs and apricot tart looks delicious and wonderful. Love the addition of the walnuts, adds a perfect crunch without overdoing it. .

    • admin says

      Magic of Spice, In my experience the brand of fruit leather doesn’t matter…and if you want, you could even change the kind of fruit leather too! (I think raspberry would be delicious.) ;)

  13. says

    What a gorgeous tart! I love the flavor of apricots but have never seen apricot leather. I may take your suggestion and use dried apricots.

  14. Bev says

    Hi! Ramadan Mubarak! I just stumbled upon your wicked blog as I had googled “how to make knafeh” I am a canadian girl with friends from Amman, and YaY! you have a recipe for knafeh and since there are a few days left of Ramadan, I thought to ask if you have ever had Atayef? It looks like a perogy that is made out of a “pancake” and stuffed with either a cheese filling, or nuts with cinamon and sugar and then drizzled with sugar syrup that is nearly identical to the one in knafeh except instead of rose water, my friend use orange blossom water. I am excited to try many of your recipies, and i had to laugh when I read the comments from the Moloukia recipe, I was not too sure about it the first time I ever had it, but am a die hard lover of it! I would love to see a recipe for tabouleh!
    Eid Mubarak

    • admin says

      Bev, Hello and Ramadan Mubarak! Thanks so much for your kind words about my blog! Knafeh and atayef bil jibneh are two of my favorite Middle Eastern sweets! I actually just made a huge batch of atayef bil ashta for my hubby…and now he wants ma’amoul for the upcoming Eid! :) Same thing happened with me and molokhia — I didn’t like it at first but now I love it! Maybe it’s an acquired taste, lol. I have a lovely recipe for tabbouleh from my mother-in-law (she’s Syrian) that I’m including in my Middle Eastern cookbook. I’m not sure if I can share it on my blog before the book comes out so I’ll ask my publisher just to be sure. (And I’ll post it soon if I get the ok from him!) Eid Mubarak!

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