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Author Notes: It may be surprising to learn that fruit leather is a classic Lebanese sweet, but it's not so surprising that the original is apricot. Always apricot and never, ever anything other than apricot, which is the most beloved fruit of the fruit-loving Lebanese.The original Lebanese version of fruit leather is a thicker, sticky apricot paste folded like a letter and wrapped in orange cellophane. It’s called amerdeen (um-er-DEEN; also qamardeen and qamar el edeen), it tastes of super-concentrated dried apricots, and at home we always considered it a treat of a day when the orange package showed up on the kitchen counter for us to tear into. When I was in Lebanon last year, I loved seeing Lebanese candies that layer amerdeen with pistachio nougat or rose jelly. There was a beautiful box of these waiting in our room at the Four Seasons in Beirut, and then again sold from the back of a guy’s car in a small village where we stopped near the Chouf mountain area, and still more in the beautiful Dwaihy pastry shops there. It was on that trip that I started to imagine making my own fruit leather, even if it probably wouldn't dry in the sun all day as it's done in homes over there.
Homemade fruit leather is far easier than I imagined, a puree of fruit and sugar baked at a low temperature. I like to cook the fruit first for added depth of flavor. —Maureen Abood
Makes 1 half sheet pan fruit leather
- 2 cups pitted, chopped apricots
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup agave nector or granulated sugar
- Line a half sheet pan (18”x13”) with a Silpat or parchment paper. Place a rack in the middle position of the oven, and turn on the oven to the lowest setting, about 140-170?F.
- In a small heavy saucepan, bring the fruit, lime juice, and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the fruit begins to break down, add the agave nectar or sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Taste the mixture after each addition to determine if it is sweet enough. If not, add more agave or sugar.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer the fruit mixture for 10 minutes.
- Puree the cooked fruit in a blender or food processor until smooth, about a minute. Pour the puree on the lined sheet pan and spread evenly with an offset spatula or back of a spoon, leaving an inch rim.
- Bake for about 4 hours, until the leather is mostly dried but still slightly tacky to touch. To roll up the fruit, if using a Silpat, peel the entire sheet of leather off the Silpat and lay it on the same sized sheet of waxed paper before cutting into strips and rolling up; if using parchment, do not remove the leather, and cut into strips then roll up. Eat the leather immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.