This dessert combined two Middle Eastern favourites - Qamar Al Din (Apricot pudding) and Mahalabeya (Milk pudding).
Similar to Apricot nectar, Qamar Al Din is often prepared as a drink, but can also be enjoyed as a pudding. I find it too sweet on its own but it's perfectly balanced when topped with the creamy milk pudding called Mahalabeya.
Mahalabeya is a dessert that can stand tall in its own right, but I love the dramatic white on orange contrast when combined with the Apricot.
It's often enjoyed during the fasting month of Ramadan, but I can't see why it can't be an all year long treat.
This recipe starts with the Apricot paste. It can be found in Middle Eastern shops as a dry paste that's re-hydrated. See picture of packet below.
500g Apricot paste* (see picture below)
2 cups hot water
2 cups cold whole milk
4 level tbsp cornflour
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup cold water
1 tbsp sugar
Sultanas or raisins
Cut the Apricot paste into rough 5cm x 5cm squares using scissors. Place in a bowl and cover with hot water. Leave to soak for 2 hours. Using a stick blender, puree the Apricot paste until smooth and transfer to a saucepan.
Prepare the cornflour slurry. The amount of cornflour is dependent on the amount of Apricot liquid you have. If you have 2 cups of Apricot liquid, you'll need 2 tablespoons of cornflour mixed in half a cup of cold water. If you have 1.5 cups of Apricot liquid, you'll need 1.5 tablespoons of cornflour mixed in cold water.
Over gentle heat, continuously mix the Apricot and cornflour mixture until it thickens and bubbles around the edges. Transfer to glass serving bowls or cups. Allow to cool.
Now prepare the Mahalabeya by combining the cold milk with 2 tablespoons of cornflour in a saucepan. Mix well until the cornflour is dissolved completely. Turn the heat on and mix continuously until the milk begins to thicken. Add the sugar and vanilla and keep mixing. Take it off the heat once the sugar has dissolved and the milk is glossy and thick. It should be the consistency of custard. It will thicken as it cools in the fridge.
Allow the Mahalabeya to cool slightly and carefully spoon over the Apricot pudding. Top with your choice of garnish. Chill in the fridge for 30 mins before enjoying.
* Apricot paste is sold in Middle Eastern stores and looks something like this:
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