This is one of my favourite desserts. It is simple to make at home but elaborate enough to impress guests. Above all, it is delicious! This traditional dessert has Oriental influence (notably in the use of syrup, which is common in Turkish/Oriental desserts). Tufahum means “apple” in Arabic, and the dessert apparently has its origins in Iraq or Iran, though nothing strongly resembling it seems to exist in either country today. Tufahija basically consists of peeled and cored apples that are boiled in agda (lemon syrup) until soft enough to be easily broken with a spoon but not falling apart. The apples are then stuffed with either ground walnuts or ground almonds (the former is more common) before being soaked in the syrup and chilled. They are topped with thick cream (sometimes with vanilla) before serving, and can be further decorated in any way you wish. If made properly, tufahija is soft, sweet and refreshing.
Get creative with the decorations-this is a “festive” tufahija
The first time I made this I had a bit of a trauma, for I left the apples unattended (I was using the Granny Smith variety) and when I came back they had dissolved into a mush. So the golden rule is to never leave your apples unattended! Bear in mind that while you can use most apple varieties (except for very large ones) some fall apart more easily than others, so keep an eye on them! The agda syrup here is lighter than in most other recipes that call for it. You may make it stronger or weaker to your taste. Some people bake these apples after boiling them, but I have never done this. I find the boiling alone, if done correctly, gives an excellent result.
Do not use an apple corer for this recipe!!! The result will be mediocre at best. For a step by step guide how to properly core apples, see this post: http://www.dinosadventures.co.uk/coring-apples-the-traditional-way/
1 kg (about 6-7) apples, peeled and cored. You may use any apple variety you wish (except for very large ones), though Cox, Golden Delicious, Jazz and Granny Smith apples work particularly well. The last gives an interesting sour contrast, but it falls apart easily once cooked so be careful and don’t leave them unattended!
For the filling
100 g ground walnuts or almonds
50 ml hot milk
1-2 tablespoons sugar
For the syrup
500 g sugar
750 ml water
½ lemon, sliced crosswise into thin slices
For the cream topping
300 ml double cream
2-3 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
½ -1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1) First make the syrup. Put the water, sugar and lemon in a pan and bring to the boil. Stir to help dissolve the sugar, and simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes.
2) Put the apples in and cook for 5-10 minutes or until they are cooked and soft but still a bit firm. Take them out and leave to cool. Reserve the syrup and set aside.
Note: The apples shouldn’t be so tender and overcooked to the point they’ve lost their shape or are falling apart. Turn the apples every 2 minutes to ensure even cooking.
3) Next, make the stuffing. Put the walnuts and sugar into a mixing bowl. Heat the milk, pour it in and mix thoroughly. Carry on mixing until all the ingredients are completely mixed together and compact.
4) Stuff the apples with the walnut mixture and put them in a large bowl or small individual bowls. Pour the syrup over and chill in the refrigerator for at least half an hour. To make the cream, mix together the double cream with the sugar and vanilla essence and beat until it has a thick, firm consistency. Spread or pipe over each apple to decorate and serve chilled, with or without the syrup (a little syrup in the bowl is traditional). You can use ready whipped cream, but the result is far inferior to making your own.
Tips and Variations
- Try adding a teaspoon of rosewater to the syrup once the apples are cooked. This gives a wonderful flavour and fragrance!
- Try using soymilk and soy cream instead of the milk and double cream respectively. This not only turns it into a vegan dish, but soymilk and cream have a wonderful nutty flavour that make for a lovely variation.