Kataifi is shredded filo dough, which can usually be found in the frozen food section of most Mediterranean grocery stores. Traditionally, kataifi is formed into rolls that are stuffed with sugar, spices, and nuts, and then topped with syrup. This simple recipe uses a custard filling that is out of this world. Unfortunately, the baked kataifi always disappeared before I ever thought to take a photo--so no picture of this lovely dessert. Your guests will be surprised to learn that the lightly browned topping is not shredded coconut.
8 ounces kataifi (1/2 of a 16-ounce package), thawed if frozen
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup sugar
2 cups of half and half
3/4 cup cornstarch
1 pound ricotta cheese
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons of orange blossom water or orange blossom syrup (You can also use Grand Marnier as a substitute.)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Pull apart the strands of kataifi and using a large, sharp knife chop into 2-inch strands.
- Place the kataifi in a large bowl and drizzle with the melted butter, stirring to coat the kataifi completely.
- Place half of the mixture in the bottom of a 13x9x2 baking dish. (You can also make individual ramekins, if you prefer.)
- Stir together the cream, sugar, and 1 cup of half and half in a large saucepan.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together 1 cup of half and half and the cornstarch until smooth.
- Bring the cream mixture in the sauce pan to a boil, being careful not to burn.
- Whisk in the ricotta cheese until smooth.
- Whisk in the cornstarch mixture.
- Continue whisking until the custard comes to a simmer and thickens (about 2 minutes).
- Pour the custard into the baking dish and evenly top with the remaining kataifi.
- Bake until golden brown (45 minutes to an hour). If you are making individual ramekins, reduce the baking time.
- While the Kataifi custard is baking, make the syrup by mixing the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a heavy sauce pan. Boil about 3 minutes. Whisk down any sugar crystals and remove from the heat.
- Stir in the orange blossom syrup/water.
Serving: Cut the kataifi custard into squares and transfer to plates. You can garnish with chopped nuts or fresh raspberries or mandarin oranges. Drizzle a little syrup over the custard.