The sister dessert to Baklava has to be Kataifi. The more common and popular dessert is baklava but don’t let that keep you from trying out this dessert that’s easy to assemble, fabulous to look at and ever a delight to eat.
Much like Baklava, Kataifi exists in the dessert repertoire of Greek, Turkish, Middle Eastern and some Arabic nations. Kataifi is a pastry that resembles “shredded wheat” but that’s where the similarity begins and ends.
Kataifi behaves like phyllo dough in that one has to work quick, be fresh and be kept moist when handling it (like phyllo). Where does one buy Kataifi? That’s easy, you’ll likely see packages of Kataifi pastry for sale in stores that sell phyllo pastry and quite often, they are beside each other in the freezer!
The most common filling for the Greek Kataifi is chopped walnuts but I don’t think the Greek Food Taliban will fault you for making up your own nut mix. One can try pistachios, almonds, pecans or go ultra-rich with pine nuts!
During the Christmas holidays, I was in a mood for a combo of pistachios, almonds and walnuts, do I hear a “Hell Yeah”?
Having some leftover filling from my chocolate baklava, I went & got some Kataifi pastry from my Greek grocer and set out to make some Kataifi!
Sandie, this one’s for you!
1 package (1lb) of Kataifi pastry, thawed
1/2 lb. of melted butter
2/3 cup of walnuts, fine chop
2/3 cup of pistachios, fine chop
2/3 cup of blanched almonds, fine chop
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tsp. of ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. of ground cloves
1 egg white, lightly beaten
3/4 cup of honey
2 cups of sugar
2 1/2 cups of water
1 cinnamon stick
rind of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
some reserved nuts for topping
Pre-heated 350F oven
- Buy your Kataifi pastry from a store that sells alot of phyllo and kataifi pastry (high turnover). This ensures you’re buying a fresh product each time. Thaw in the fridge overnight and take out of the fridge about 15 minutes before working with it to come to room temperature.
- In a food processor, pulse your nut mixture until you’ve achieved a crumbly nut mixture. Empty into a bowl and mix in the remaining ingredients in the filling list.
- After you’ve brought your Kataifi to room temperature, open the pastry. The Kataifi I work with comes rolled up in a package. Carefully unroll it and using some scissors, cut up into 2″X5″ strips. Keep your supply of Kataifi pieces covered with a damp towel as you assemble the Kataifi rolls.
- Drizzle the surface of your Kataifi piece and place 1 Tbsp. of the nut mixture at one end of the Kataifi strip and roll it up tightly into a small cylinder. Place the the assembled rolls of Kataifi on a buttered 11″X 15″ pan and sprinkle them with melted butter.
- Bake in a preheated 350F oven (middle rack) for 1 hour. Allow to cool.
- Prepare the syrup as follows: add all the syrup ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes. Keep the syrup hot until your Kataifi has cooled from the oven (Katiafi must be cool – syrup hot).
- Using a ladle, pour the hot syrup over the entire surface of your Kataifi. You may see pooling of syrup but no worries, the Kataifi will absorb the syrup up. Sprinkle the reserved nuts over the Kataifi pieces.
- Allow to cool before serving. Keep stored in an airtight container (room temperature) for a week.
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