|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 19g||24%|
|Saturated Fat 7g||36%|
|Total Carbohydrate 33g||12%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||5%|
|Total Sugars 22g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||2%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Alongside baklava, kataïfi is one of the most popular Greek desserts and is beloved in other Balkan countries and Middle Eastern regions as well. The dessert is made with a special pastry dough, also called kataïfi, consisting of delicate, thin strands made out of shredded phyllo dough. Rounded out with a nutty filling, this decadent dessert is as beautiful to look at as it is delicious. Kataïfi dough, similar to angel hair pasta in its appearance, is assembled by stuffing and rolling up nests of dough. Like many Greek dessert recipes, simple syrup is poured over after baking to add a sweet finish but also to preserve its freshness, allowing the pastry to last longer.
When baked, the finished product looks like shredded wheat. Perfectly crunchy, kataïfi makes a great finish to any meal, but also a treat to have during a coffee break or in an elegant teatime display. With today's commercially packaged dough, kataïfi is fairly easy to make as the dough comes as a long strip, about three inches wide, making it easy to fill and roll up.
This kataïfi is a great recipe for beginner bakers, and although complex in look, assembling it is not at all difficult. Kataïfi is delicious as is and doesn't need anything else to be an amazing sweet treat, but many opt to top the pastry with other toppings such as whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, custard, ganache, or fruit preserves.
For the Syrup:
1 1/4 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 thin strip lemon peel
4 whole cloves
1 tablespoon honey
For the Filling:
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup almonds, coarsely ground
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon brandy
For the Dough:
1 pound kataïfi dough, defrosted per package instructions
8 ounces (1 cup) unsalted butter, melted
Make the Syrup
Gather the ingredients.
Heat the water in a saucepan over low heat. Add 2 cups of sugar and stir to dissolve.
Add the lemon juice, lemon peel, and whole cloves and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in the honey. Remove from the heat.
Place a fine-mesh colander over a bowl and strain the syrup. Set aside to cool.
Make the Filling
In a mixing bowl, combine the walnuts, almonds, cinnamon, ground clove, egg white, brandy, and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Stir well with a wooden spoon.
Assemble and Bake the Kataïfi
Lay the long strip of thawed dough out on a clean work surface and divide it into 18 to 24 pieces, gently spreading the strands out a bit if they clump together. Each piece will be used to create an individual kataïfi roll. Keep the unused dough covered with a piece of waxed paper topped with a damp towel to keep it from drying out.
Preheat the oven to 350 F/175 C. Lightly butter a 9 x 13 baking dish.
Brush a strip of dough with melted butter.
Place a tablespoon of the filling at one end of the strip and roll it up into a cylinder, tucking in any stray pieces of dough. Carefully roll the pastry tightly so the filling is securely enclosed. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Place the rolls seam-side down in the prepared baking dish, close together but not squashed, and brush well with butter. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until golden brown and crispy looking.
Remove from the oven, pour the cooled syrup over the pastry, and drape the pan with a clean towel. Let cool about for 3 to 4 hours as it absorbs the syrup.
This is also a great make-ahead dessert:
- Prepare the syrup and assemble the rolls the night before, cover tightly with wrap, and refrigerate without baking.
- Bake as instructed when you need to and add the cold syrup on top. Expert cooks suggest always pouring cold syrup on hot pastry for best results. Allow it to rest for three to four hours.
Can I substitute the kataïfi dough?
Yes. Although finding it at specialty stores or in the freezer aisle of Middle Eastern markets should be easy, if buying it is difficult, use thawed phyllo dough to replace it. Roll it up tightly and slice it as thinly as possible with a very sharp knife. Although it won't have the same texture or appearance as the original dough, it will still make a beautiful and tasty dessert.