Favorite Desserts, Kataifi Ekmek and Classic Kataifi

Kataifi ekmek. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Kataifi ekmek is a favorite dessert made with angel hair phyllo, syrup, nuts, topped with a layer of pudding, cream, and more nuts, if preferred. It requires refrigeration, so make sure to leave enough time for it to set before slicing and serving, about 4 hours to overnight.

The classic kataifi, rolls of angel hair phyllo filled with nuts, baked until golden brown, and covered in syrup with a hint of cinnamon, is usually purchased from your favorite Greek bakery along with other perennial Greek favorites like baklava.

Kataifi is not as complicated a dessert to prepare as you might think. A package of frozen kataifi can be purchased at most grocery stores these days. Variations on the fillings and flavors will impress your family and friends.

Kataifi Ekmek

1 package kataifi

1 1/2 cups sliced almonds or chopped blanched almonds, toasted

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

For the syrup:

2 1/2 cups water

2 1/2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cinnamon stick

For the topping:

1 package Yiotis vanilla pudding mix

1/2 cup sugar

8 cups milk

1-2 cups whipped cream or whipped topping such as Cool Whip

Additional toasted, sliced or chopped almonds or pistachio nuts for garnish

Shred the kataifi by hand into a 13 by 9 inch baking pan, spreading it out to an even layer. Pour the melted butter over all the shredded kataifi and sprinkle with a layer of the sliced or chopped almonds. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until golden brown about 30 to 45 minutes depending on the strength of your oven.

Allow to cool as you prepare the syrup. Stir together the water, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Add the cinnamon stick and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Pour the syrup over the kataifi in the pan. Set aside on a wire rack to cool as you prepare the next layer of the dessert.

Stir together the pudding mix packet, the 1/2 cup sugar, and the milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and continue simmering and stirring until bubbling and thickened. Remove from heat and pour over the kataifi in the pan.

Allow to cool completely before spreading a layer of whipped cream or Cool Whip over the top of the dessert. Garnish with additional toasted, sliced or chopped almonds and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving to allow the layers to set and ease slicing. This dessert can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight as well. Cut into squares and enjoy.

Kataifi

1 package kataifi

1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts, or almonds, or pistachios (or a combination of nuts)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

For the syrup:

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cinnamon stick

In a medium bowl, combine the nuts and the cinnamon. Take sections from the kataifi and place a spoonful of the nut mixture in the center. Roll the kataifi with the filling in the center and place in a 13 by 9 inch baking pan. Continue rolling with the remaining filling and kataifi.

Brush with the melted butter, drizzle any leftover melted butter over all the kataifi and bake until golden brown in a preheated 350 degree oven. Prepare the syrup by combining the water, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan.

Add the cinnamon stick and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat. Spoon the syrup over the baked kataifi and allow to cool completely before serving. Garnish with additional chopped walnuts or pistachio nuts, if preferred.