Find a new way to make guilt-free treats with Middle Eastern Sweets
Add fresh flavour and texture to your snacks with this low-fat sweet treat from Salma Hage's new book
We all know we shouldn’t overdo it on treats; even Salma Hage, the Lebanese author of Middle Eastern Sweets agrees, writing in the book's introduction: “If you’re picking up this book because the idea of a collection of sweet Middle Eastern desserts thrills you, then like me, you may have a complex relationship with sugar and sweet things. An awareness of my health and that of my family means that I indulge less than perhaps I would if I was free to eat what I please, in spite of the consequences. That being said, I’m a firm believer in the expression ‘a little of what you fancy does you good’.”
Her new book is filled with quite a lot of what you already fancy, but with new and unusual flavour profiles and twists. In this book, alongside halva, baklava and Turkish delight, you’ll find dark chocolate ice cream with tahini, brioche with pistachios, and hot chocolate with star anise and cardamom.
They’re all delightful updates of familiar dishes and Hage’s fruit leather recipe is even diet friendly. She makes this simple, tangy fruit snack when she’s got a bit of a late summer glut, but with just fruit and a tiny bit of oil to keep it from sticking, it’s fairly healthy.
To make it you'll need a little neutral oil, such as mild olive oil, or vegetable oil, for greasing, and 1 lb 2 oz/500 g of mixed fruit, washed.
Preheat the oven to 160°F/70°C/lowest gas mark or as low as your oven will go. Lightly grease an 8 × 12-inch (20 × 30-cm) roasting tray and spread a lightly greased piece of parchment (baking) paper in the tray. Trim any larger pieces of fruit and remove leaves, pips, and stalks. Place the fruit in a saucepan and cover with a lid. Cook gently over a low heat for 10 minutes, until the fruit is soft but not yet broken down.
Transfer the fruit to a food processor and blitz for 3 minutes, until very smooth. Pour the fruit into the lined tray and place in the oven overnight. 12–15 hours in the oven is usually enough for the fruit to be dry to the touch and leathery.
Remove from the oven and use sharp scissors to cut 1¼-inch (3-cm) lengths from one side to the other. Roll each length of fruit into a snail shell shape and store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
For more details on this recipe, as well as much more besides, order a copy of Middle Eastern Sweets here.