If you have grown up in the Middle East, then amardeen was most likely in your pantry; an apricot paste sold in large one-pound sheets, it has an intense, tangy and sweet apricot flavor. The apricots are from a region in Syria near Damascus.
Kids in the Middle-East eat it as a snack, a little piece every day.
Amardeen can be found either in a one-pound sheet or in a bottle and is sold in Middle-Eastern groceries; if unable to find, then apricot nectar will be a good substitute.
Amardeen is made into puddings or drinks. I wanted to make it into bars, because I love lemon bars and amardeen bars are just as tangybut with the added fragrance of apricots.
First Step: Make the amardeen curd
- 1 1/2 cup of amardeen syrup + 1/2 cup of water
- 4 eggs
- 4 ounces of unsalted butter (100 g)
- 1/2 cup of cornstarch
- 3 Tablespoons of sugar (or more, to taste)
- Melt the stick of butter; add the eggs, the sugar and the amardeen syrup (reserve the water for later)
- Stir the mixture continuously; it will steam and get a bit thicker.
- Add the cornstarch diluted in the water and stir continuously.
- Strain the mixture through a sieve into a bowl. Cool and refrigerate, covered with a sheet of plastic wrap.
Second Step: Make the cookie base
- 2 1/2 cups of flour
- 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
- 4 ounces of cream cheese
- 1/2 cup butter, melted (100 g)
- 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon of mahlab
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- Place the flour, powdered sugar, mahlab, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor.
- Mix the dry ingredients for 30 seconds. Add through the feed tube all the other ingredients: Melted butter, oil, egg, cream cheese.
- Process for one minute or so, until the mixture becomes lumpy; remove from the bowl, gather into a ball and wrap in plastic or foil and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer.
- Roll out between 2 sheets of baking paper to a thickness of 3 mm or 1/4 inch. Place in a pan lined with parchment or baking paper. Bake for 30 minutes at 375F; if it browns too fast, cover and bake at 325F for a few more minutes until the pastry is baked thoroughly and crisp.
- Cool. Spread the amardeen curd evenly on the pie. Top with ground pistachios if desired. Keep refrigerated.
NOTE: Substitute apricot nectar, with a few teaspoons of fresh lemon juice (to taste). Boil the nectar down a few minutes in the microwave to concentrate its taste (it will reduce its volume, so plan accordingly).
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