Last week, when temperatures dipped to single digits, I decided to take a culinary trip to Greece.
I had a box of kataifi in the freezer and a dessert made with this flaky dough could easily transport me to an area of the world with warmer and dryer weather.
Kataifi is shredded phyllo dough that is often used to make sweet, crunchy desserts. It can also be used to make savory appetizers with ground beef or vegetables. I had never used kataifi before, and I was up for the challenge.
Like regular phyllo dough, kataifi must be covered with a cloth when not in use so it will not dry out quickly.
Most recipes call for melted butter to be poured over the dough to ensure it will become brown and crisp during the baking process.
Greek ekmek kataifi begins with a layer of kataifi dough that is drizzled with butter and baked until crispy and golden. Fresh from the oven, the crust is saturated in a lemony syrup. Creamy custard and whipped cream are then layered on top and garnished with cinnamon and/or chopped nuts.
Ekmek kataifi may seem extremely sweet to those who are unfamiliar with Greek or Middle Eastern desserts.
The sweetness of this dessert is complemented by a nice cup of strong, sweet, foamy Turkish coffee or sipped with the anise-flavored alcoholic beverage called Ouzo that is widely consumed in Greece and Cyprus.
Making kataifi was certainly a nice way to transport myself to a warm, hospitable country with turquoise seas and sapphire skies on a cold, winter day, when physical travel has been greatly restricted.
While this recipe is long and may seem detailed and intimidating, it is very easy to follow.
The custard and the whipped cream can even be prepared a day ahead of time and refrigerated until you are ready to assemble the dessert.
I can assure you, the time and effort spent to make this impressive indulgent dessert was worth it!