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Sunday, 19 July 2015

The Mountain People’s Baqlawa

This is Baqlawa with a modern twist. And this is the inspiration behind this recipe:
I wanted to create a less sweet with more nutritional value dessert that is also traditional-inspired, however, better looking one with a story. Not much to ask right?
The outcome was, this decadent, apple-sweetened and aromatic dessert with way less calories (than the original Baqlawa) and way more nutritional value. A very impressive dessert when plated that told the story of mountain ingredients and sparked conversation whenever served. An all round pleasant food experience!
  • Making your own applesauce completely improves the flavours. Also allows you to control the aromatics used. When making your own, reserve the water of the first boil. Then simmer that water to reduce and thicken and drizzle that water over the dessert as you would with Qater (sugar syrup). Not only is it a less sweet and way healthier substitute to sugar syrup, but that concentration of apple flavor is just heavenly!

Serves 6

1 recipe or jar applesauce
1 Packet Filo Pastry, cut into 3 cm wide rectangular strips
300g walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
200g toasted almonds and roughly chopped (optional)
100g toasted pine nuts, roughly chopped (optional)
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp powdered cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground cardamom
150g butter, melted
100g brown sugar

For Cubed Apple Garnish
3 apples, peeled, finely cubed and placed in acidulated water
1 tbsp mixed brown sugar and cinnamon powder
2 tbsp butter
1 spring worth of fresh thyme leaves

Ashta (Arabic  clotted cream) Whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream

If making your own, then start by making the applesauce. Once ready, set aside to cool.

In a small bowl mix together the brown sugar and powdered cinnamon, set aside.

Line the baking tray with parchment paper and brush lightly with butter. Brush the filo rectangles with melted butter then sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Stack a few brushed sheets together and place on the lined sheet. Bake in a hot oven until golden and crisp.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl mix together the chopped toasted nuts and sprinkle with the ground spices and mix all to coat. Add the honey and mix again making sure to coat all very well. set aside.

Make the cubed apple garnish
Drain the apples, sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon mix and toss to coat. Heat the butter along with thyme leaves and shallow fry the apples with the butter until golden.

To plate, pour 1 tbsp applesauce at the centre. Place one stack of the crisp filo rectangles, then top with the nut mixture, then with another stack of filo. Place 1 tsp of the cubed apple mixture on the side. Top the centre with a quenelle of ashta, whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream. Drizzle with concentrated apple water or honey.

Serve immediately.