Oh, my dessert-loving friends - have I got a tasty one for you! This recipe originates in Turkey and features the world-renowned Turkish apricot. Dried apricots are soaked, candied with lemon scented syrup, stuffed with rich cream, and garnished with crunchy pistachios. So yummy! These one bite treats are just as perfect after dinner, as they are as an appetizer, side for afternoon tea, or even as a sweet bite for breakfast.[/fusion_text][fusion_text]
What are Turkish apricots?
The majority of dried apricots on the market come from either Turkey or California, with the bulk of those coming from Turkey. So chances are those dried apricots you've had hanging out in your pantry are indeed Turkish apricots.
What sets Turkish apricots apart (other than being grown in Turkey) is the way they are dried. Generally, apricots in Turkey are dried whole, then pitted, resulting in a plumper, thicker fruit than apricots that are pitted before drying, as it typically the case in California.
For a recipe like stuffed apricots, even if it didn't happen to originate in Turkey, Turkish apricots would be the best option. Their plumper, thicker texture naturally make them the perfect choice for stuffing.
My favorite is the Wild & Raw brand Sun-dried Organic Turkish Apricots. They are plump, naturally sweet, and happen to be available in a generous size bag on Amazon.
Sulfured vs. unsulfured apricots
Most dried fruit of any variety is treated with sulfur dioxide to preserve color and freshness. Just take a peek at the ingredient list of your favorite dried fruit (unless it happens to be a natural or organic brand), and you'll see it right there - sulfur dioxide.
I am personally a fan of avoiding odd-ball additives in my food and prefer the natural, unsulfured option. The issue is that non-sulfur dioxide treated fruit usually doesn't look as pretty (Ah, the age-old debate! To go all natural with a few more wrinkles or cling to surface beauty with a few more chemicals). With apricots, for example, the sulfured varieties will be a lovely, bright orange, while the non-treated varieties are a rather dingy brown.
I happened to have both on hand when I made this recipe, and you can see the color difference in the photos. I didn't find any difference in flavor, but I did find that the sulfur treated apricots never got quite as tender as the unsulfured ones.
I will leave the choice to you! A few chemicals for added prettiness, or go the more natural route. For me, in the future, I will stick with the less chemically option, and embrace the lovely brown of a naturally dried apricot.
Choosing the filling
Traditionally, this recipe calls kaymak, which is a thick cream produced in the Middle East and Central Asia. It is often made with water buffalo milk and has a consistency similar to clotted cream. While I haven't tried it myself, it is described as decadent and creamy, with a hint of cheesy tanginess. Sounds delicious!
I don't know how it is in your neighborhood, but water buffalo products aren't exactly readily available around here. I do, however, have a special affinity for clotted cream and happen to have a reliable method to make it. You can grab my clotted cream recipe HERE.
On the other hand, clotted cream takes time and presents its own ingredient-availability challenges, so a great substitute to either kaymak or clotted cream would be mascarpone. A couple other options would be cream cheese or thick Greek yogurt.
Stuffing the apricots
When opening the apricots, use a small, sharp paring knife. Cut them about halfway open, but no further.
It will be easiest to stuff the apricots if the filling is softened slightly at room temperature.
I found it easiest to stuff the apricots by using a small spoon. I tried a pastry bag, but it seemed a little clunky for this task. Simply scoop up a small spoonful of filling, and load it into each apricot.
I wanted to keep this recipe as true to its roots as I could but had a few ideas for how to make it even more interesting. If you want to mix things up a bit, why not try adding cardamom to the soaking liquid, or maybe stirring a bit of orange flower water or rose flower water into the cream. Both options sound divine to me!
You will likely have extra syrup after you've put together the apricots. Don't throw this away! Drizzle it over ice cream, spoon into yogurt, or even stir it into a bit of brandy or bourbon.Print