When it comes to Eid, making perfect desserts becomes a friendly competition among families and the neighbourhood. Sometimes all we want is the prettiest looking desert or a complex dessert recipe that will amaze the guests. Today I’ll be sharing with you two of my favourite dessert recipes which, although might seem a tad complicated, but are actually quite simple and easy to make. With a touch of good food styling skills you can make your dessert look out of the world!
The show-stopper dessert of the upcoming Eid is this decadent dish of crisp profiteroles filled with a silky smooth orange custard cream filling, dusted with a frosting of vanilla sugar and served with a sprinkle of fresh pomegranate seeds. This will surely keep you enticed and craving for more.
For the choux pastry:
½ cup butter
1 cup water (120ml)
1 cup all-purpose flour
A pinch of salt
1 tbsp granulated sugar
For the custard filling:
2 cups of milk
5 egg yolks
½ cup of sugar
4 tbsp cornstarch
½ tsp vanilla essence
Zest of an orange
In a medium saucepan, pour in the water, butter, salt and sugar and cook over medium heat. When the water-butter mixture comes to a boil, take it off the stove and add in the flour. Mix with a wooden spoon and cook the paste for about 1 to 2 minutes or until a thin film starts to form at the bottom of the pan. Take it off the heat and transfer the choux pastry in a separate bowl.
Once the mixture has cooled, add in the eggs one at a time. At this point it might seem like the egg is nowhere near blending into the thick flour mixture, but with a little elbow grease this will start coming together. Then once one egg is completely mixed, add the next and so on, till all four eggs have been incorporated.
The dough should be sticky but not stiff and it should hold a stiff peak. Then transfer the choux pastry into a piping bag.
Next, take a piece of parchment paper and draw a perfect circle with a pencil on the back side with a 9 inch plate. Now, to make sure the parchment paper doesn’t lift up during the piping process, take a little bit of dough and put it in the four corners and place the parchment with the circle drawn down, right on top.
Pipe the dough into 1½ inch circles onto the marked circle, then a smaller circle inside, making sure to keep one centimetre gap between each dollop of dough.
If you have any peaks formed, just wet your finger tip and gently press it down. This will prevent the peak from burning in the oven. Then brush them with a little bit of egg wash and bake for 25-30 minutes in a preheated oven at 180°C. Make sure to not open your oven while these are baking as it will interrupt the baking process and make them collapse.
Next, to make the custard cream filling, pour the milk into a pan and let it simmer.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch and sugar together until pale and creamy. Then pour the hot milk over the top in a steady stream stirring continuously. Be cautious to not scramble the eggs in this step. Pour the whole mixture back into the pan and cook over low heat for 4 to 5 minutes, whisking till the mixture thickens to the perfect consistency. Then pass the custard through a fine sieve into a bowl and stir in the vanilla essence and orange zest. Cover with cling film and leave to cool completely. Finally, once cooled spoon the custard filling into a piping bag.
To fill the profiteroles, you can either flip them over and make a hole in the bottom and fill in the custard filling or you can cut the profiteroles sideways and add a dollop of the silky smooth custard craeam into each.
Assemble the platter and dust with vanilla sugar and top off with fresh pomegranate seeds, orange zest and mint leaves.
These are stuffed middle eastern cookies, especially popular in Syria, Pakistan and Palestine during the Eid occasions. There have been different variations in the recipe over the years, although typically these are semolina milk shortbread pastries filled with dates, pistachios or walnuts. They can either be made into small stuffed balls without any decorations or can be decorated by hand or with the use of special wooden moulds. I used my mother’s hand made moulds instead of the typical wooden maamoul moulds.
2 cups of fine semolina
½ cup flour
½ cup of milk powder
½ cup sugar
A pinch of salt
½ cup butter
¼ cup unflavoured oil
2 tsp yeast
2 tbsp luke warm water
2 tbsp liquid milk (if needed)
For the date filling:
A dozen or more pitted dates
A handful of roasted cashew and almonds
¼ cup of hot water
In this filling you can use any regular dates that can be pitted easily. Soak the pitted dates with ¼ cup of hot water for 15 minutes and blend to form a grainy paste. Transfer it to a small pan and stir till the liquid evaporates to leave a thick date paste. Once cooled, add the crushed roasted nuts to the date mixture to make a very thick filling.
For the apricot filling:
A handful of dried apricots
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
¼ cup of hot water
Cut the apricots in small pieces, soak them in ¼ cup of hot water for 15 minutes and blend to form a rough paste. Transfer it to a small saucepan with 2 tbsp. of sugar and stir till the liquid evaporates to leave a thick apricot jam filling.
In a bowl place the semolina and pour the butter and oil into it.
Mix until the butter and oil are completely absorbed into the semolina. Leave it for a few hours. The semolina will resemble wet sand. Then add the flour, milk powder, sugar and salt and combine.
Next, dissolve the yeast in luke warm water and wait for 2 to 3 minutes to activate and add it to the semolina mixture. Mix till it roughly comes together into a dough. This will not result into a smooth dough ball rather a dough that comes together and is homogeneous. Cover and allow the dough to rest for about an hour.
Try rolling a small amount of dough into a ball, if you see the dough is not coming together at all, then add a tablespoon of liquid milk one at a time and knead gently and let it sit for another few minutes.
Take a small amount of dough, flatten the dough with your finger tips and place the dough in the mould and press firmly. To prevent the cookies from sticking to the moulds, you can either dust the moulds with enough flour or line it with a little piece of plastic wrap.
Place a small amount of date filling inside and seal the dough around the stuffing, making sure that the filling is completely enclosed by the dough. Press it gently and take it out of the moulds.
Bake the maamoul cookies in a preheated oven for 15 minutes at 180°C till the edges are slightly golden brown. Let them cool for 10 to 15 minutes and transfer onto a wire rack.
Dust it with icing sugar and store in an airtight container for up to three weeks or even longer if stored in the fridge.
Tasmia Momin is an avid food enthusiast and food blogger. Find her at www.facebook.com/stove.stories.