I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for days and as such would like to apologize for the long lapse in posts the last week or so.
Without further ado, I’d like to offer you what is probably my favorite dessert–EVER–and which I revamped slightly to include the unique flavor of Mastiha. I am not sure of the history of Ekmek Kataifi and I can only hypothesize that it is a dessert combining Greek and Turkish influences. It’s three layers (a Kataifi pastry base soaked in syrup, a custard filling and fresh whipped cream topping) make a divinely delicious dessert … a little bit of heaven in every bite.
Eκμέκ Κανταΐφι — Ekmek Kataifi
For the pastry base:
1lb. Kataifi pastry
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, plus a pat more for buttering the pan
For the Syrup:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
For the Custard:
7 egg yolks
6 cups milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
7 tablespoons fine semolina
4 tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Mastiha crystals, ground with a mortar and pestle
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a large rectangular baking pan (about 11×15 inches), making sure it is relatively deep enough to accommodate the layers of pastry, custard and whipped cream. To begin making the base, take the strands of Kataifi and pull them apart slightly while layering them in the bottom of the buttered pan–no need to press down on the Kataifi strands as they are better left light and fluffy. Brush the Kataifi strands with the melted butter then place the pan in the oven. Toast the Kataifi strands until golden brown.
Meanwhile, begin making the syrup by boiling the sugar with the water in a small saucepan for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, then pour the hot syrup over the toasted pastry base.
To make the mastiha-flavored custard, add the sugar and the egg yolks in a medium saucepan and whisk until combined. Alternating as you go, slowly begin adding the semolina, milk and corn starch whisking until well incorporated. Move the saucepan to a burner and set it over medium heat. Cook the mixture stirring constantly and being careful not to scorch it. Once the custard thickens, remove the saucepan from the heat and beat in the vanilla and ground mastiha. Cool slightly, then pour the custard over the Kataifi base. Let it all cool completely before adding the fresh whipped cream topping. (At this point you can cover the dessert and refrigerate overnight if you prefer, simply adding the whipped cream the next day just before serving.)
Just before serving, combine 2 cups heavy cream and 2 or 3 tablespoons sugar in the bowl of a standmixer (using the whisk attachment) and beat the cream to stiff peaks. Spoon the whipped cream over the custard layer and carefully spread it to each corner of the pan. Carefully cut the Ekmek Kataifi into square servings. Top with a pistachio spoonsweet or, more traditionally, with toasted almond slivers or chopped pistachios.