Name this candy: apricot paste with pistachios
The one item that my grandmother wants for Christmas is some sort of candy that she described as "apricot paste with pistachios cut up in little squares". I am pretty sure this exists (as odd as it sounds) because I have very vague childhood memories of her eating this candy. Can anyone tell me what this is called and where I can buy it?
cbear, I don't know what you ended up getting your grandmother, but coincidentally today I found a recipe for this very thing.
The recipe is from Poopa Dweck's "Aromas of Aleppo" (a Syrian Jewish cookbook), and is accompanied by a gorgeous photograph of diamond-shaped pieces of apricot paste with pistachios. Here is the recipe paraphrased:
Helou Mishmosh (Apricot Paste with Pistachios)
8 oz shelled and peeled pistachios
3 lb dried apricots
1 cup cold dessert syrup (recipe follows)
Blanch the pistachios by putting them into a saucepan filled with boiling water. Immediately lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Set up a steamer basket over boiling water and steam the apricots in small batches, 4-5 minutes per batch, stirring now and then so they soften evenly. Set aside covered to keep hot.
Using a food processor, add the hot apricots in small batches and pulse until they form a smooth paste. Scrape out and repeat.
Combine the apricot paste, dessert syrup and pistachios in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce heat to low, simmering until the mixture forms a cohesive paste.
Line the bottom of a rectangular baking pan (15" x 10") with parchment paper. Pour the mixture into a tray and smooth it out.
Dry the mixture for a week uncovered or loosely covered with foil.
When the paste is dry, use a sharp knife to detach the edges from the pan and turn the slab of paste out onto the counter. Slice diagonally into 1 1/4" diamonds.
Poopa Dweck says the sweet will keep for a month, but you must cover it with foil because plastic wrap will make it soggy.
And here is the paraphrased recipe for the dessert syrup:
Shira - Dessert Syrup
3 cups sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp orange blossom water or rose water
Combine all the ingredients with 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring the whole time with a wooden spoon.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, until the syrup thickens and drips slowly down the back of the spoon.
If your grandmother is from the Levant, it sounds like she's talking about a sweet called Malban! One very popular variety is apricot malban with pistachios. Another really popular kind is three stripes of apricot paste with stripes of white nougat studded with green pistachios between.
Other varieties of malban have nougat, nuts, coconut, raisins, rosewater, sesame seeds - many different colourful combinations. Any Lebanese or Syrian shop will have a selection, both in gift boxes and individually wrapped.
Here's a picture I found online:
I do like Turkish Delight, and it is similar - but what your grandmother described sounds so exactly like malban to me...
Thanks for the link. I just got to look at the website now. I never realized they had all the other goodies besides Aplet and Cotlets...nor did I know the founders were Armenian immigrants who created candies from their childhood using fruits of the new world. Under Fruit Delights they had some selections that I've never tasted while in Washington States:
"..Old-Fashioned Locoum® Gift Boxes - Our fresh-tasting version of a Near-East delicacy with flavors right out of the Arabian Nights! Includes Cinnamon & Walnut, Orange Blossom & Almond, Rose & Pistachio, and Lemon...."
Now I want to order some, too.