This White Custard Kataifi Dessert With Sour Cherries is an insanely flavorful alteration of a classic Ekmek (for those familiar with it).
The kataifi pastry is topped with a thick white custard made without eggs and flavored with Mastiha. And on top, a creamy and thick whipping cream, along with sour cherry preserves. Filled with middle-Eastern flavor this dessert has become one of my new favorites, to serve on a family get-together.
And if Greek desserts are good for one thing, that would be for serving on gatherings as they always give plentiful portions without much cooking effort. I always try to skip serving cakes at gatherings with a large number of people because I find them too fussy. Unless it's a Sokolatina made in a pan which makes up for the effort, with the number of portions it yields.
With this recipe, you get 16 good-sized pieces to make everyone really happy. Plus, you get to have some leftovers which trust me, you'll surely appreciate, as you'll be wanting another piece of this beauty!
But if you're not as large a family as a Greek one let's say, and you wish to make this dessert, then it's better to divide this recipe in half. And use a pan that's half the size of the one mentioned in the recipe below. Meaning instead of using a 30 x 40 cm (12 x 16-inch) pan, use one that's about 8-inch wide square or round one.
Now as for making it, it's pretty easy. And if you have made a dessert with syrup before you'll be finding it even easier. If you haven't, here's a good place to start. Once you get the hang of it you'll be able to make Baklava or any other Greek dessert like a pro.
A few things to keep in mind about syrup-making:
- Always make sure that everything that comes in contact with the syrup while you're making it is clean and dry.
- Ideally do not stir. Especially if it's a syrup with a thick consistency. Stirring might lead to the syrup forming little sugar crystals. If this ever happens, add a bit more water and bring to a low simmer until sugar dissolves again. The right way to cook a syrup, is to let the sugar dissolve on it's own while simmering. If you believe you need to stir, let's say the pot you are using is too large and the sugar tends to sit on the sides, then give a few stirs just before it starts to simmer.
- One thing that helps prevent sugar lumps in syrup is adding a teaspoon of lemon juice as you'll notice in many recipes.
And now that I've made you really anxious about the syrup-making let me tell you, that it is as simple as adding a bit of sugar and water in a pot and simmering until it slightly thickens. As long as you keep the tips I've mentioned above in the back of your mind.
How To Handle And Use Kataifi Pastry
This shredded pastry looks more delicate than it actually is. Maybe because of the fact it reminds us of angel hair pasta so much. While it is in fact a soft finely shredded dough that's so easy to handle. It is almost always found frozen in grocery stores. So you have to let it unfreeze overnight before using it.
In order to use Kataifi pastry, you have to work it a bit with your hands first. And this is what scares most people while it is in fact a fun and easy process. All you have to do is pull apart the threads, separating them from each other as much as you can. It really doesn't matter whether some of the threads tear apart. As you won't be able to tell once it's used in a recipe. The whole point of doing this is to avoid having any thread lumps. Therefore, the Kataifi gets properly cooked.
One thing to keep in mind about Kataifi is that it has to be used right away or else it is going to air-dry just like phyllo. And once it air-dries you won't be able to shape it anymore as it will break when you handle it. So to avoid this, either use right away as the recipe instructs, for example, turn it into Kataifi rolls, or add it directly in a pan to use as a pastry base like in this recipe.
What to do with leftover Kataifi? Remove as much as the recipe calls for out of the package and wrap the remaining one in plastic wrap. Then add into an airtight food container and place back in the freezer. Or in the fridge, if you are planning to use it within the next 5 days.
You may even use Kataifi in savory dishes like these Kataifi-wrapped shrimps!
How To Make The White Custard Kataifi Dessert
First, make the syrup so it cools down a bit before using it. Then work and add the Kataifi dough to the pan. Sprinkle with melted butter and ground pistachios.
Bake the Kataifi until deep golden in color and crispy on top. Pour the syrup all over the Kataifi. Press gently on top with a spoon so it sinks completely in the syrup. Then let it cool at room temperature.
Make the custard cream as instructed in the recipe below and add it on top of the Kataifi. Spread it evenly using a spoon.
Let the cream cool down to room temperature also.
Make the whipped cream and spread it all over using a spoon. I like to give it a wavy look so the cherries sit better on top. But you can even make it smooth or even use a piping bag and go wild 😉
Serve It With...
Sour cherry preserves or Vissino spoon sweet is a favorite Greek topping for these types of desserts but if you cannot find it in your area, you can add other red fruit preserves like raspberry, wild blueberry, etc.
Add the preserves once you have cut the dessert into portions and are about to serve. Otherwise, the syrup of the preserves will get absorbed by the whipped cream. Enjoy!
White Custard Kataifi Dessert With Sour Cherry Preserves
For The Syrup:
- 750 grams / 1 lb + 10 oz sugar
- 950 grams / 2 lb + 1 oz water
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 1 lemon peel
For The Kataifi Pastry:
- 1 package (450 grams/ 15.9 oz) kataifi pastry
- 150 grams / 5.3 oz butter melted
- 50 grams / 1.7 oz pistachios
For The Mastiha Cream:
For The Whipping Cream:
- 1 liter heavy cream 35% fat cold
- 60 grams / 2.1 oz sugar
- Let the Kataifi pastry in your fridge overnight to unfreeze.
- In a blender or food processor add all of the pistachios and blend until they look finely chopped. Half of these (50 grams) will be used in the Kataifi base and the remaining half will be used as a garnish, sprinkled on top of the sour cherries.
Make The Syrup:
- In a large cooking pot, add all of the ingredients for the syrup. Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Then reduce the heat to medium-high and cook the syrup for about 10-12 minutes until it gets a nice syrupy consistency. Remove from heat and set aside.
Make The Kataifi Pastry:
- Preheat oven at 170°C / 338°F.
- Add the Kataifi Pastry in a large pan 30 x 40 cm (12 x 16-inch) and start to pull it apart, so most of its threads start to separate. The point here is to make it really fluffy, so there shouldn't be any thread lumps left. Once it's spread evenly in the pan, sprinkle the 50 grams of pistachios all over. Drizzle the melted butter on top and bake for about 15-20 minutes. Until it looks deep golden and crispy on top.
- Once the Kataifi is baked, pour the syrup all over on top. Press the Kataifi lightly with a spoon to sink in the syrup. Then let it reach room temperature.
Make The Mastiha Cream:
- Take 200 ml out of the 1,5 liter of milk and place it in a bowl together with the cornstarch. You will need a hand whisk to stir these two together as the cornstarch will sink and stick to the bottom of the bowl.
- Add the remaining 1,3 liter of milk in a large cooking pot along with the sugar and vanilla extract. Heat over medium heat.
- Once the milk gets steamy hot, start adding the cornstarch mixture in slowly, while stirring constantly with a hand whisk. Keep stirring occasionally, until the cream starts to bubble. It will take about a minute or two for the cream to thicken from the time it starts to bubble. Once the cream thickens, turn off the heat and stir in the Mastiha. Give it a good stir for a minute and then remove the pot from the heat and set it aside.
- Pour the hot cream over the Kataifi pastry (which is at room temperature) and spread it evenly with a spoon. Let the cream cool down completely at room temperature before adding the next layer of whipping cream on top.
Make The Whipping Cream:
- Place the cold heavy cream in the bowl of your electric mixer. With the whisk attachment on, start beating the cream over medium speed.
- Once the cream looks like it starts to thicken, start to add the sugar in, one tablespoon at a time until all 60 grams are incorporated into the cream. Then keep beating until stiff picks form on the cream. Turn off your mixer and spread the whipped cream over the custard cream.
- You can use a spoon to give it a fluffy shape or make it smooth according to your liking. Refrigerate the dessert for at least 8 hours or even better overnight, before cutting and serving.
- Cut into 16 large square pieces or cut the squares in half to create smaller triangular pieces. Add the sour cherries on top just when you are about to serve. If you add the cherries on top sooner, their syrup will be absorbed by the cream and make it runny.
- Keep in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. Enjoy!
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