Apricot and Milk pudding with pistachios and caramel graffiti

April 6, 2010  •  Category:


You know what happens when you mindlessly grab a box of dried apricots at the market and stare at it once home? A few days later, you make a pudding. At least, that’s my reflex. When in doubt, make a pudding!

In the Lebanese kitchen, puddings  are thickened with starch; gelatin is not used; so here is a pudding of apricots, pistachios and milk called muhallabiyeh in Arabic; with a caramel sculpture, for fun.

I am going to list the ingredients and explain the –extra easy– method of making a Lebanese pudding. You will never have to worry about eating something rubbery or heavy.

INGREDIENTS: For the apricot pudding

  • 12 ounces of dried apricots
  • water
  • one cup of sugar (or more, to taste)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • a generous handful of pistachios ( can use pine nuts instead, or  nothing!)
  • 1 1/4 cup of cornstarch

For the milk pudding: (recipe can be multiplied)

  • 2 generous cups of whole milk (or lower fat, if you like)
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar (or more, to taste)
  • 2  heaping tablespoons of cornstarch
  • flavoring: a teaspoon of orange blossom water, rose water, or vanilla; some crushed mastic if you like.


  1. Place the dried apricots in a bowl, cover them with water (one inch over the top of the fruits) and let them soak in the water for one or two days, refrigerated.
  2. Transfer the apricots and their water into a pot, add more water if needed and cook on a gentle simmer for about 15 minutes or until the apricots are soft ( check by piercing with a fork). While the apricots are simmering, add the sugar and add the lemon juice at the very end, stirring a bit.
  3. Transfer the apricots to a blender and puree for a minute or two until smooth. You should have 32 ounces or 500 ml.
  4. Retransfer to the pot, and heat the mixture; while it is heating, dilute the cornstarch in a cup of water. AS  SOON as the apricot mixture starts steaming, add the cornstarch and armed with a wooden spoon or a whisk, start stirring continuously until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and place the pot on a flat surface; Take a large sieve and a large bowl and pour it into the sieve to strain it and get it as smooth as possible. Pat it with the spoon to help it through.
  5. Throw a handful of pistachios in the apricot mixture and stir to distribute them evenly. Set aside. If not using right away, you can keep it in the fridge for a couple days.


  1. Place the milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat and add the sugar, stirring till melted.
  2. Dilute the cornstarch in a bit of milk or water. When the milk mixture starts steaming, add the cornstarch mixture and stir continuously until thickened. Add the flavorings at the end, stirring all the while.
  3. Pour the milk pudding through a strainer into a bowl (or easier yet, a bowl with a spout).
  4. Start dividing the milk pudding onto the apricot pudding bowls or verrines.

TO MAKE THE CARAMEL GRAFFITI: Recipe from Nick Malgieri, light desserts


  • 1/3 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • parchment or wax paper as needed


  1. Place the water, sugar and corn syrup in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
  2. Stir and heat till all is dissolved. Use a brush dipped in water to go around the circumference of the pan to make sure no sugar remains stuck to the walls of the pan.
  3. Cook the syrup until the color turns golden-brown or amber.
  4. Remove from heat and to stop the cooking, place the pan in the sink in a little water; be careful, it will sputter! Leave it only a few seconds.
  5. Lay a large piece of parchment paper on a metal cookie sheet; using a spoon, take bits of caramel and thrown into the paper in an up-and-down motion, going one way and then the other way; sprinkle some nuts on top if desired.
  6. Let the caramel cool, then cut with scissors or your fingers the shape of your liking and insert in the pudding right before serving. The caramel will keep in a tight container in the fridge for a few hours or in a metal box for a few days.

A recent article in the New York  Times about Beirut, with a photo of Tawlé, Kamal Mouzawak’s restaurant-kitchen.


61 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. aruna says:

    wow it looks gorgeous n tempting!!!

  2. Ivy says:

    I love this pudding. I like the description of the caramel as “graffiti”.

  3. The Little Teochew says:

    BRILLIANT! A pudding that I can make for my family. Gelatin is out of question because of our dietary restrictions. So, it’s great to get a recipe like this, step-by-step and best of all, one which yields such a lovely pudding! Thank you for this, Joumana!

  4. aqua says:

    Love the caramel grafitti! Your presentation is gorgeous.

    Thank you for your comment, you really made my day 🙂

  5. Núria says:

    Mmmmmm… you have such a beautiful and delicious blog!!! I love apricots but never think of making pudding with them. This is a wonderful idea :D.

  6. Angie's Recipes says:

    wow Look at that! A simply sensational pudding dessert!

  7. Devaki says:

    Dear Joumana – You are a wealth of creativity. How absolutely fantastic and the flavors with the apricots, milk, pistachios topped off with the caramel – so very lovely. I wish I could reach out and grab a glass right this minute.


    Ciao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  8. Cherine says:

    A fabulous treat! Love the colors!

  9. Priya says:

    Thats a gorgeous and beautiful pudding, ur caramel graffiti looks fantastic and elegant..

  10. Meeta says:

    i have always loved muhallabiyeh – growing up in kuwait, qatar and dubai my parents and i always had awesoem lebanese friends who would make the most delicious puddings – this is a winner.

  11. Sushma Mallya says:

    love the way you have done this caramel graffiti….looks too good and yum…actually those ready made canapes i got it from india a month back when i went there…

  12. Rajani@eatwritethink says:

    wowow joumana! only you can be so creative with a bag of dry apricots! its nice and i think i am not going to be so absent minded now about picking up apricots, super recipe 🙂

  13. Rosa says:

    A delicate tasting pudding! Really mouthwatering!



  14. nags says:

    that’s quite a treat you have there!

  15. Emily says:

    I never thought of using cornstarch in pudding, what a great idea! I don’t use gelatin in my cooking either. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  16. Jane says:

    Wow! What a fascinating and beautiful recipe. Looks fresh and different. Everything about it makes me want to try it. I also like the fact that it doesn’t include eggs, thus no danger of a custardy, eggy aspect. Your blog as a whole, your recipes, and your photos never fail to impress and interest me. Truly wonderful!

  17. Christine @ Fresh says:

    Impressive! What a sophisticated dessert!

  18. Sra says:

    It’s beautiful! In India, we have a Hyderabadi dessert called Khubani Ka Meetha, which is also made with apricots. It is served with cream/custard and garnished with the kernel of the apricot.

    On my blog, there’s a recipe for a stuffed apricot dessert, and the cookbook I got it from said it was Lebanese.

  19. Bria says:

    Brilliant. The caramel graffiti is a gorgeous and creative addition. Love the way you can make the dish in stages. I plan to try this, but with coconut milk instead of cow’s milk. It has plenty of fat (good fat!), so hopefully it’ll turn out well. Thanks for posting this!

  20. noobcook says:

    such a luxurious and elegant looking dessert! 😀

  21. marla says:

    Love your pudding here. The graffiti adds a very special touch, this would be lovely to serve to guests. Your method photos are great 🙂 xo

  22. peter says:

    Love the “graffitt” descriptive…I’ll make mine a Jackson Pollock!

  23. petite nyonya says:

    What a delicious dessert! I love apricot! The caramel graffiti is a terrific idea!

  24. Julie says:

    Vraiment, tu as le don de rendre n’importe quel plat très appétissant! Et puis j’aime beaucoup les abricots, ça ne peut que me plaire! Je crois que j’ai trouvé la recette que je vais tenter 🙂
    Gros bisous!

  25. Carol says:

    That looks delicious! Love dried apricots but never had it in a pudding! Your caramel “graffiti” came out fabulous!

  26. 5 Star Foodie says:

    So gorgeous with the caramel graffiti and the flavors sound exquisite!

  27. Namitha says:

    Oh My !! That’s such an elegant dessert…loved the graffitti too 🙂

  28. Mimi says:

    Beautiful presentation, so elegant.

  29. Mary says:

    This is a gorgeous dessert and you have presented it in such an elegant fashion. I love the recipes and will use them soon. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary

  30. Gourmet Chick says:

    This looks fabulous – I know where to come for a taste of Beirut now!

  31. SYLVIA says:

    This pudding is absolutley amaaazing and very romantic too.
    Perfect for date night. High marks

  32. Nadjibella says:

    Joumana mon amie, tu es un chef. Une merveille pour les yeux et je n’ai aucun doute sur le goût.
    A bientôt.

  33. Diane-plop says:

    Quelle superbe verrine avec le coulis d’abricots et le pudding avec le joli caramel posé dessus et la touche de pistaches Quel talent. C’est magnifique et rafraîchissant…. Un véritable délice
    Bonne soirée,
    Diane-plop – La Table de Pénélope

  34. MaryMoh says:

    Oooh…love this. I love the 2 layers…looks beautiful. My friends would be very impressed if I serve them this 😀

  35. Tammy says:

    Hello Joumana,
    This looks truly magnificent! I should mention that a friend in Amsterdam was making a Korean meal (she’s an excellent cook) for non-Koreans and fretting over what to make for dessert; Koreans aren’t huge in desserts. I recommended that she try your orange and milk pudding with the baked orange slices, since I’d really liked the results in my own kitchen, and it’s the sort of light finish that goes well with Asian cooking. It was a hit! Thank you from both of us…

  36. Sook says:

    As always, beautiful pictures there!

  37. Anthony Sepe says:

    Thank you for your comment about the beet dip. I also appreciated that you make it with yogurt too–how interesting ! 🙂 thanks for sharing and for stopping by our blog.

  38. sweetlife says:

    oh my you really out did yourself…it’s just breathtaking…


  39. theUngourmet says:

    Your pudding looks simply divine! I haven’t tried using my dried apricots this way. Oh, and the caramel is so cool! 🙂

  40. Marie says:

    This sounds magnificent, and looks it too. Do you think I could use the apricot paste I wrote you about?

    • Joumana says:

      I made this as an alternative to the paste, called amardeen, that you bought at the middle-eastern store; the paste needs to be soaked overnight and cooked as well with some sugar, then pureed; it will give you a more intense apricot taste than the dried apricots; maybe this is due to the variety of apricots ( they are from the Ghouta region around Damascus in Syria and famous all over the near east; I would definitely used the paste over the dried apricots!

  41. A Canadian Foodie says:

    What an incredible work of art! When I was in London, I was in the Harrod’s food floor thinking of you. There was a Lebonese Bakery in a corner there and a woman in a wheel chair buying everything they had. So, I visited with her about what was what and what treats were her favourites. She said that anything that Baker made was fantastic. The little baskets that you made that I hope to make were there. There were not as delicate as yours… but they were the same thing. Obviously easier to transport when made sturdier. I bought one, and planned to eat it right away – but didn’t get to it for two days. It was still delish! Anything pistachio has me in the palm of it’s hand… or anything as gorgeous as this dessert. And I love you calling the garnish “graffiti”. That is perfect!

  42. heni says:

    Everything about this dessert screams make me and eat me! I want to grab it out of the screen! =) def making this!

  43. Louise says:

    I can only dream of making such an elegant looking pudding. I’m not sure I will ever try such a display but, I will follow your instructions for making non-rubbery like pudding. I can’t wait!!!

    Thanks for sharing…

  44. Arlette says:

    Bijanin Hal Sour, I wish I can grab one of the desserts now….
    shahayteeni ya Joumana….Rawaah hal mouhalabiyeh.
    I have everything.. maybe we need to taste some here

    Guess what yesterday I found some okra at the store, and they are so big with dark dots, as they they went to college and graduated before getting picked.
    Never tried the frozen one.. have you, is there any special cooking method to it…

  45. Faith says:

    You are truly an artist! This is so fancy and elegant! Thanks for showing us how to make the caramel graffiti, I can’t wait to try it!

  46. Muneeba says:

    Wow, that does look do-able when u explain it so well! And not to mention, super delicious 🙂

  47. cmiranda says:

    Pudding looks absolutely stunning, ita a shame that at some point it must be eaten.

  48. PHILO says:

    Ta verrine est magnifique et joliment décorée

  49. fatima says:

    Hi! Love your pudding… its so beautiful with the ‘grafitti’ n all… i love your recipes too… just recently tried your muhallabiya and it was an instant hit!!…

    I really wanna try this pudding out but i just wanted to confirm… for the apricot pudding do u mean to use 1 1/4 “cups” of cornstarch or 1 1/4 tblspns????

    Would appreciate your reply…


  50. Socco says:

    Have a nice day


  51. domi says:

    Bonjour Joumana, un dessert étonnant avec un superbe décor qui doit faire son effet auprès des invités, j’adore. Bisous et bon mardi

  52. Atika Quraishi says:

    these are some very good recipes… and i would love try one of them at home… really liked the images.. kudos to photographer ?

  53. Mary Rowling says:

    Hi! Love your pudding… its so beautiful with the ‘grafitti’ n all… i love your recipes too… just recently tried your muhallabiya and it was an instant hit!!…

  54. Joumana Accad says:

    Hello Mary, so glad to hear! Plus it is so versatile and easy!

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