Whole baby eggplants get cooked in syrup bursting with citrus, ginger, and warm, sweet spices.
This unique showstopper of a dessert is something I adapted from a Turkish treat my mother learned to make many years ago. This sweet yet savory dish is a true conversation starter. Enjoy solo, or serve atop cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, or vanilla ice cream. Can’t imagine eating eggplant for dessert? This recipe is just as delicious made with fresh dates.
- 3 pounds baby eggplant no longer than 3 inches
- 8 ounces walnut halves
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons orange blossom water
- 2 tablespoons rose water
- 10 whole cloves
- Peel of 1 orange cut into 1-inch-long pieces
- 1 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 one-inch piece fresh ginger peeled and thinly sliced
- ½ cup honey
- Poke a few holes in the flesh of the eggplant with a toothpick. Do not remove the crowns or peel away the skin.
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil (make sure there’s enough water to fully cover the eggplant). Drop the eggplants in the water and cover with a heatproof plate so they remain fully submerged. Simmer for 7 to 10 minutes, until the eggplants are just tender but still hold their shape. Strain and gently press the eggplants with a dishtowel so they release extra water.
- Using a small knife, cut a slit in one side of each eggplant, being careful not to slice all the way through. Push two walnuts into each slit.
- In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, orange blossom water, rose water, the remaining walnuts, and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the cloves, orange peel, orange juice, ginger, and stuffed eggplants, return to a boil, and boil until the liquid reduces to about 2 cups, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the honey.
- Gently stir with a rubber spatula, so the honey evenly coats the eggplant.
- Place one layer of eggplant into a deep jar or container with the walnuts facing up. Spoon a layer of syrup on top, making sure to include some of the zest, ginger, walnuts, and cloves. Continue layering eggplants with syrup, finishing with about an inch of syrup at the top of the jar.
- Let the contents of the jar cool completely, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.