My partner David Suissa returned from a family Passover in Montreal with a gift for me from his mother, Meme Suissa: berenjenitas en dulce.
Moroccan candied eggplants are a post-Passover treat, laid out on a groaning table of sweets for the celebration of Mimouna. The last time I tasted them was in a Moroccan Jewish home in the Musrara quarter of Jerusalem in 1984 — and the flavor lingered. Poaching the baby eggplants in sugar syrup turns them into something besides a vegetable, and other than candy. The spice mixture — ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice — makes them intensely fragrant as well.
The recipe below comes from from Dulce lo vivas/ Live Sweet: La Reposteria Sefardi by Ana Bensadon, which is also the source of my go-to olive pil chocolate mousse dessert.
How do you eat these eggplants? With a cup of mint tea and a pile of Meme Suissa's Anise Biscuits.
Berenjenitas en dulce (Moroccan Candied Baby Eggplant)
- 25 baby eggplants – as small as possible
- 1.5 kilos (7-1/2 cups) sugar
- 500 grams (1-1/2 cups) honey
- crushed fresh ginger (according to taste)
- 8 cloves
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- a few grains of allspice
Poke the raw eggplants all over with a fork.
Put them in a (large, heavy, enamel) casserole, cover with cold water and add the sugar.
Boil for 10 minutes, lower the flame and simmer for 2 or 3 hours over a low flame.
Remove from the heat.
Make a (little sack) with a fine cloth or gauze and put in all the spices. Add the spices and half the honey to the casserole and return it to the flame.
When the pot begins to boil, lower the flame and simmer over a low flame for 2 or 3 hours.
Add the rest of the honey. The eggplants have to cook for another 2 or 3 hours more, until they turn very dark.