This dessert is in celebration of St Patrick’s day in Lebanon; after all, there is an Irish contingent based here and a few (scattered) Irish folks in the country. Just met one yesterday as a matter of fact. Notice the sugar cube? It is shaped like a shamrock. The pistachios in the dough give this dessert its green color, another must for St Pat’s Day.
This dessert is based on what is called here mafroukeh; it is simply semolina flour that is rubbed with a little butter and cooked over the stove in a sugar syrup with rose and orange blossom water. As a result, it swells a bit and becomes a cooked dough. The semolina dough can be molded or shaped in many different ways. Today, I mixed in some ground pistachios with the semolina flour.
The key to success in this recipe is the sugar syrup; if you cook it too long and it becomes too heavy, the dough will be heavy and a bit stiff. Keep the sugar syrup light (do not cook it too long) and the dough will be very tender (the texture of cooked cream of wheat).
I used some prepared ashta (clotted cream) available in pastry shops in Beirut for the stuffing, but you can easily make your own at home or use some full-fat ricotta cheese instead. Click here for the recipe.
- 250 g. of pistachios (about 2 cups)
- 2 tbsp of butter
- 1 1/4 cup of fine semolina flour
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1/3 cup of water
- 1 tsp of lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tbsp of orange blossom water
- 1 1/2 tbsp of rose water
- 2 cups of prepared ashta or ricotta cheese
- Peel the pistachios: Place the pistachios in a bowl and cover with several cups of warm water; leave for a couple of hours or longer (overnight is OK). Rub the pistachios with your fingers and peel off the skins. Set aside to dry on several pieces of paper towels for thirty minutes or longer.
- Place the pistachios with 1/4 cup of sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process till powdery. Place the sugar, water and lemon juice in a saucepan and heat, stirring from time to time to dissolve. Simmer gently about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place the semolina flour and butter in a large skillet over medium/low heat. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until slightly toasted, stirring from to time. Add the sugar syrup and combine the mixture rapidly. Transfer half the mixture to the bowl of the food processor and mix it with the pistachios for thirty seconds or so until it shapes up like a moist dough; sprinkle the rose and orange blossom water on the dough and combine for a few seconds; transfer to a bowl, cover and let it rest in the fridge for a couple of hours or longer until ready to assemble. Keep the rest of the semolina dough wrapped in plastic for another dessert.
- Grease the tartlet molds and line with plastic wrap. Scoop out a small ball of pistachio mafroukeh and tap it gently to line the mold with it; place a smaller ball of cream on top and then scoop out a smaller ball of dough and pad it gently to cover the tartlet mold. Fold the edges of the plastic wrap over and place in the fridge until serving time (which could be an hour or up to two days later). To serve, flip the tartlet onto a plate and gently remove the plastic wrap to dislodge the mafroukeh. Serve.
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