If you’ve read the previous post then you’ve probably noticed a pattern growing. Middle eastern favorites, rose and orange blossom water, ingredients that are traditional to the region and make up almost 90% of its desserts. Ramadan is one week in, and the need for oriental desserts and sweets has spontaneously arrived. For some reason, there are a handful of desserts that are synonymous with this holy month of fasting. It’s like our body inexplicably instantly goes into Arabic dessert mode, where chocolate and cakes mean nothing anymore. Just give us those “Ater” drenched pastries!!!
As a family, we’ve never been the type to lay out meticulous complex Iftar feasts. Our dinners did not differ from what we ate the rest of the year, except the addition of the daily lentil soup and fattoush, the Ramadan staples. However, our house was never missing the katayef, halawet el rez, the mafroukeh… (I need to stop, I’m already drooling).
Insert the Muhallabia. Probably the simplest dessert you can ever make. It is basically a rose water and orange blossom flavored milk custard. Traditionally, it’s served with a variety to nuts and rose-water flavored simple syrup (Ater). But, to kick it up a notch and add another depth of flavor, I chose to add a layer of tart apricot jelly to cut through the sweetness, and sprinkle some sweetened vermicelli and pistachios on top.
Its simplicity and lightness makes it a favored treat to end your Iftar with. It’s texture is really smooth, a silky sweet treat with a homey comfort feel to it.
Main tips for this recipe – watch the milk while it’s boiling carefully – burnt milk is not appetizing and neither are chunks of cornstarch. Yes of course, you can use low fat milk, but I really recommend using whole milk.
Spoiler alert: you don’t have to wait for Ramadan to make it. A very convenient make-ahead sweet perfect for entertaining.
Muhallabia (Milk Pudding) w/ Apricot Jelly