I can’t tell you all how happy I am to be back in my kitchen, after having been floored by the flu for nearly 3 weeks! I’ve been watching a lot of cooking shows these last few weeks, writing down a lot of recipes that I found inspiring, and one of those is Imqaret, which I saw on My Kitchen Rules Australia (2016 I think). The recipe was made by a mother and son team, Anna and Jordan, who have Maltese roots.
You’re probably wondering what Imqaret is, as was I of course. Well, it’s a traditional Maltese sweet made with pastry and a filling of dates. The word imqaret in Maltese, is the plural of maqrut (diamond-shaped) and it signifies the diamond shape of the sweets. It’s very popular in Malta and is sold in street markets and is often served with ice cream as well.
Luckily for me there were a lot of recipes online for Imqaret, so I compared a couple of them and gave the recipe a try. I absolutely loved the pastry from the get go, but the filling wasn’t really great (my partner loved it though). The recipe I had followed had a lot of cloves in it, which was just too overpowering, and I also wanted just a bit more flavours added to it. I had a look in my flavour bible and decided to add in some dark chocolate and walnuts as they go well with dates. But this obviously meant it would no longer be Imqaret of course but just a lovely pastry fileld with dates, chocolate and walnuts.
If you want to make the more traditional Imqaret, you can just leave out the chocolate and walnut from the ingredients list, everything else remains the same.
Makes: 20 slices
- 200g pitted dates, chopped in small pieces
- 125ml water + 4 extra tablespoons
- 2 tablespoon orange blossom water*
- 2 tablespoon of anisette liqueur (Ouzo, Pastis, Sambuca, Raki, ..)
- grated zest of 1 orange
- grated zest of 1 clementine
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 60g walnuts
- 40g dark chocolate (at least 70%)
- 250g plain flour
- 25g caster sugar
- 50g butter
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- vegetable oil or sunflower oil for frying
You will need to go to an Asian, Mediterranean or Middle Eastern store for this, if you don’t have this near you you can also replace 1 tablespoon of orange blossom water by 1/2 tablespoon of orange essence and 1/2 tablespoon of water. It’s not the same of course, but it’s a good alternative.
We start by making the filling. Place the dates, 125ml water, zests of the citrus fruits, 1 tablespoon of orange blossom water and 1 tablespoon of liqueur in a sauce pan along with the cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and stir until the dates have dissolved into a thick sauce. Set aside so it can cool down completely. Meanwhile blend walnuts and chocolate together until you get a crumbly mix.
Pastry time! Add flour, sugar and butter into a bowl and mix until combined, then add the beaten egg along with 4 tablespoons of water, 1 tablespoon of orange blossom water and 1 tablespoon of liqueur and mix until. You’ll now end up with a crumbly mixture. Use your hands to knead it together in the bowl, take it out onto a lightly floured surface and continue kneading until you have a dough. Shape into a disc and place in clingfilm in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Once the filling is cooled down and your dough has been in the fridge long enough, you can heat up a bottom of oil in a deep frying pan. Divide the pastry in half and roll it out onto a lightly floured surface into a strip of 10cm wide, doesn’t matter how long. Place the date filling along the middle of it, leaving 2-3cm on both the top and bottom of your pastry. Crumble the chocolate-walnut mixture on top. Dip your fingers in water and brush along the edges of the pastry. Now fold the edges together and press down. Slice the pastry diagonally into diamonds (about 5cm wide) and deep fry them until crispy and golden. Place on kitchen paper to drain the oil and serve with some ice cream. You can also lightly dust them with icing sugar.