Hi there! I’m..uh..back! Again. Hopefully, back back this time.
I really don’t want this to turn into a complaint fest akin to the type I have with my mother on the phone every morning, so suffice to say that life with six month old twins is…interesting. I don’t think I’ll be cooking much for the next three and a half years. Or eating. Or sleeping. Or brushing the bird’s nest-like frizz currently attached to my head.
But hey, it’s Ramadan! Food, food and more food is on everyone’s mind. And where there’s Ramadan food, kunafa is almost always there, in all its ooey, gooey calorie ridden glory. Although we all love the traditional syrupy one with all the nuts, sometimes it’s nice to try something a bit different. 2013 favourites include mango, Nutella and red velvet kunafas. Nice, huh?
While munching on a red velvet piece, it suddenly dawned on me that kunafa was just like pie; fruit, cream, nuts, almost anything sweet can be added to it and it would be incredibly yummy. Good news is, it’s much easier to make than pie but equally delicious.
Ready for my idea of the perfect dessert?
Apple. Cinnamon. Cream.
All the flavours of apple pie on a golden, crunchy, caramelly kunafa crust.
1 pound kunafa
1 cup corn oil (you can use melted butter)
2 medium apples (I used sweet, firm apples)
1 cup water
1 Tblspn corn starch
2 tspns sugar
1/2 Tblspn cinnamon
1/2 tspn vanilla
Juice of one lime/lemon
1 cup milk
1 Tblspn corn starch
1/2 cup sugar
1 tspn vanilla
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 tspn vanilla
Make your caramel first. Caramel is tricky. If you mess up more than three batches- and two pots, a spoon and possibly a finger- give up and just buy it ready made.
You’ll need a good, sturdy preferably stainless steel heavy bottomed pot. Don’t use teflon or your favourite, most expensive Hello Kitty short sided pan.
Put water. Add sugar. Stir gently on medium high heat with a wooden spoon until sugar dissovles. Then stop! DO NOT stir again. You could cover the pot and/or brush the sides of the pot to avoid crystalization of the sugar. Swirl mixture every now and then, again NO stirring.
Keep milk handy, you’ll need it soon.
As soon as mixture starts turning a rusty yellow, keep your eye on it and get ready to take it off the heat as soon as it turns light golden brown.
Make sure you wear an oven mitt.
Take pot off the stove (maybe into sink, to avoid any accidental messes), add half of the milk and whisk quickly. It will bubble furiously. Keep whisking, and return to stove over a low heat. Add the rest of the milk until you have the desired consistency.
You want a thin sauce.
Now you can get to the kunafa.
Add oil (or melted butter) to kunafa and then use your fingers to “fluff” it, cutting the long strands into shorter pieces.
Press the doughy strands into well greased cupcake molds, then bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees celsuis until they turn a dark golden colour.
I made an Egyptian milk custard (Muhalabeya) to be the creamy base for the apple filling. It’s incredibly easy and goes perfectly with the kunafa.
Bring milk to the boil with sugar. Dissolve corn starch with a little milk in a seperate bowl then add it to pot. Add vanilla. Whisk mixture over medium heat till it becomes the consistency of a thin custard. Don’t worry, it will thicken a bit more as it cools down.
Peel and cut apples into medium sized cubes and immediately squeeze a lime over them to avoid browning.
Dissolve corn starch in water. Add sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Stir well and bring mixture to a boil.
Add apples and raisins and simmer until apples are tender.
Now we’re ready to assemble our apple pie kunafa “cup cakes”.
Drizzle with caramel and set aside for five minutes.
Place a dollop of cream in the center.
Add a big spoonful of the warm apple mixture.