I like to make this traditional Lebanese dessert for special occasions or if I’m really craving it and can be bothered to go through the effort. This is because it can be really tiring and just looooong in the kitchen. However, it really does taste great homemade if you follow this recipe ;). I read up a lot on this recipe online but couldn’t really understand the method, every site had different ashta (white filling) ingredients etc so I just called my mum and she gave me the best recipe and its super simple. You just have to be patient as it takes time. The following measurements are a lot and they are to be dished out around your family homes, friends, or given in charity.
Ingredients for the ASHTA (Ashta is the white filling (it’s like clotted cream)): 1 litre of whole milk, 300ml of double cream, 1 tbsp of sugar, and 5 tbsp of cornstarch. AND 1 tbsp of orange blossom and rose water.
Method: Pour milk first until warm. Grab a whisk. Add the sugar and cream. Then take some of the warm milk in a cup to melt the cornstarch (this is done so that it doesn’t clump when you add it straight to into the pot). Keep whisking and whisking until it becomes thick and your arm starts to hurt. Right at the end, add the orange blossom and rose water. Take off the heat. Whisk for another couple of minutes. Pour into a bowl to let it cool down and put it in the fridge. This should take around 30-35 minutes. Just keep going until the ashta is thick thick.
Whilst this is cooling in the fridge, we can prep the batter mixture for the mini pancakes.
Ingredients: 4 cups of plain flour, 1 cup of Semolina (smede), 4 and a half cups of water, 1 sachet of yeast and 1 tsp of Baking Powder.
Method: in the above order add the dry ingredients, then just mix until all combined. I used a hand blender to stop lumps from happening. 10 minutes before you pour the mixture onto a non-sticky pan you ADD the Baking Powder. During this 10 minutes; I left this to set in the fridge. The consistency is meant to be watery like pancake batter. It literally is like pancakes but mini.
Okay lets get to work. Now, heat a non-sticky flat pan and rub it with a tissue soaked in vegetable/sunflower oil or whatever oil. Using a jug to pour the pancake mixture to get a non messy perfect circle. Do a trial and see how long it takes to bubble and let it get golden on the bottom. I like them small to medium sized pancakes. Small are really cute and I usually count to three when I pour the batter. Once the pancake bubbles fully, remove it onto a clean towel and cover them with another clean towel. Do not flip the pancake, I repeat DO NOT. Just cook one side. L Do this until you’re fed up lol; or until the batter mixture is finished. I had a lot leftover so I put it in the fridge to make over the next couple of days.
Now that you have your mini pancakes, grab a seat and the ashta from the fridge and get to filling. Grab the pancake in your hand and a tablespoon in the other to fill it with ashta. Cup the pancake from one corner and pinch to close all the way to the middle. You don’t close it fully (you can if you want). Line them up on a nice platter/plate whatever you have in the kitchen. Then sprinkle some grounded pistachios on the ashta et VOILA. You have your QATAYEF. Repeat until you’re once again fed up, or done with the mixture.
We make a sugar syrup called ATER. This is 1 cup of sugar, 2 cups of water, squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a drizzle of orange blossom and rose water. You can also drizzle honey instead of this sugar syrup or nothing at all if you think this step will be too sweet for you.
If you want to be adventurous or do your own thing you can add your favourite nuts with the ashta such as walnuts, almonds, raisins. If you want to continue and close the whole pancake up you can. Do what you want… there are no rules to this! We put some dark chocolate spread in a few of them and it tasted amazing.
This dessert goes well with arabic mint tea or peppermint tea. I tried to explain this step by step and I hope it was clear enough. If not leave a comment and I will get back to you. I hope you love it and enjoy this traditional Lebanese dessert. Apparently it looks like cannoli. We can call it Lebanese Qatayef Cannoli.