Monday, 24 March 2008

apricot & chocolate tart

On the last day of the Sydney Easter holidays I wanted to share this delicious chocolate tart that I made for my family on Easter Friday.

Not too many are aware, but in Northern Europe the celebrations of the death of Jesus coincided with the pagan spring equinox festivities, marking the end of the winter and celebrating an increasing amount of sun as the days grow longer.

The clever early Christians simply adopted the pagan festivals and absorbed them into the resurrection celebrations in order to make Christianity more widely appealing. Makes sense and you have to give it to those missionaries, they were very good marketers.

In fact the etymology of the English word Easter comes from Anglo-Saxon festival for the goddess Eostre, who symbolised the dawn and sun rising from the east. Eostre was similar to other more well-known dawn goddesses such as Eos (Greek) and Aurora (Roman).

I’m not Christian, but I do see Easter as a time to celebrate with family and reflect on new beginnings. Chocolate just makes that symbolism a little sweeter.

I first discovered this tart recipe in the March 2007 edition of delicious magazine (Australian version), but since found the same recipe listed on this website. It comes from the team of Sam and Sam (!) Clark, the chefs of London’s famous Moro Restaurant.

Like most of their dishes, this tart is a contemporary take on Moorish cuisine. For the uninitiated this means the flavours of the Muslim Mediterranean, which strongly influenced the food of southern Spain.

The recipe uses vibrant flat sheets of dried apricot called qamar el-deen or amardine. Also known as fruit leather, these are dried apricots flattened into flexible sheets that can be melted down. Above is the qamar el-deen cut into strips and moistened with a little lemon juice.

In the Middle East qamar el-deen is often used to flavour ice creams or mixed with boiling water to make a sweet drink taken before and after fasting during Ramadan.

Qamar el-deen was an ingredient I challenged myself to cook with for my 2008 Food Resolutions.

If you can’t find qamar el-deen (in Middle Eastern speciality stores), then you can substitute with good quality dried apricots.

For the tart shell, I used cookie crumbs mixed with melted butter to form a mixture that I pressed into the tart base, however the original recipe calls for your own pastry, which is listed below.

Apricot & Chocolate Tart

Recipe by Sam & Sam Clark of Moro Restaurant. Serves 8.

180g qamar el-deen (or dried apricots), cut into strips
4 tbsp water
1 tbsp lemon juice
125g unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
2 eggs
50g caster sugar
creamy yogurt, or crème fraîche, to serve
200g plain sweetened cookies
80g butter, melted

1. In a food processer, turn the cookies into crumbs.
2. Transfer to a bowl and mix with 80g melted butter to create a loose mixture.
3. Tightly press cookie crumbs into a tart tin and refrigerate until needed.
5. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4.
6. Put the apricot paste in a saucepan over low heat with the water and the lemon juice, and stir until a smooth paste is formed. The mixture should taste slightly tart.
7. Spread the purée over the base of the tart shell and leave to cool for a little while until a slight skin is formed.
8. Meanwhile, melt the butter and the chocolate in a bowl set over simmering water, stirring to blend.
9. When the chocolate has melted, whisk the eggs and sugar for 3-4 minutes until pale, light and fluffy.
10. Fold the eggs and chocolate together and pour into the tart shell and even out with a spatula. Bake on the middle shelf for about 25 minutes. The filling should be a little wobbly when you take it out and have a very thin crust on top.
11. Serve with creamy yoghurt or crème fraîche.
Note: The original recipe uses the below pastry recipe instead of a cookie crumb base.
You can substitute qamar el-deen with finely chopped dried apricots, which you simmer for 5 minutes with the same amount of water and lemon until soft, then blend to a purée in a food processor.

Sweet Pastry

140g plain flour
30g icing sugar
75g chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
1. Sift the flour and icing sugar together.
2. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
3. Add the egg yolk and mix with a fork until the mixture more or less comes together. If the pastry seems too dry, add a splash of milk or water.
4. Form into a ball and flatten slightly. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
5. Preheat the oven to 220’C
6. Grate the pastry (it can be quite hard) on a coarse grater and press it evenly around the edges and base of baking tin, to a thickness of 3-5mm.
7. Prick the base and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
8. Bake the tart shell on the top shelf of the oven for 10-15 minutes until light brown. Remove and cool on a rack.

Since I made this tart for my family's Easter Friday dinner, I thought I'd enter it into the Easter Cake Bake event over at Slice of Cherry Pie. It's Julia's second year hosting this event, so I think it's safe to say it's an annual affair.


  1. The tart sounds fabulous and I'm gonna have to look for the qamar al-deen product at the mid-east supermarket.

  2. i absolutely loved this tart when we dined at moro last year. thanks for the recipe and link to their website ... i will have to give it a try sometime.

  3. Apricot and chocolate... this sounds so good! It looks great too!

  4. ohmigosh...i just love anything so chocolatey...yummmm i can hear the choco particles calling me...not a big fan of apricots, but this looks so gorgeous i gotta try someday :)

  5. That tart looks fantastic! A great combination!



  6. OMG, this looks amazing! I'm taking the folks to Aoyama tomorrow for 'hamami' (cherry blossom viewing). This is definitely going to be part of our picnic spread. :)

  7. thanks everyone. i was pretty happy with it myself :)

  8. Ok so I am completely impressed. What a wonderful tart. My husband Chopper aka David took one look at the picture and said, sweet heaven above, his favourite fruit is apricots and he happens to love chocolate nearly as much as I do. I will be making this for him. Thank you very much for the recipe.

  9. wow, this cake looks great - I'm making it tonight for our Iftar party - we're doing an old+new theme, so I think using qamar al din with chocolate fits that bill. Amazing the power of the internet, thanks for the recipe!

  10. Ooooo yummy!!! Looks amazing and I think really suitable for this time of the year!


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