The bird's nest, better known as “Ouch el Boulboul” or “Baklava”, are one of the most emblematic desserts in Middle Eastern pastries. Thanks to their colorful appearance, almost everyone remembers having seen or eaten them at least once I have no doubt that Arab pastry chefs are artists.
Lebanese pastry has transcended borders. These types of sweets based on noodles, filo pastry, dried fruits, and nuts are popular in all corners of the world. There is even a recent trend to offer trays of assorted Arabic sweets at Western celebrations.
But what is this dessert about? As the name implies, they are nest-shaped cakes. The nest is prepared with very fine wheat noodles. These noodles are known as "Angel Hair", you can find them in large markets, or directly in Arab product stores. The easiest thing is to get them by their Turkish name "Kataifi".
The noodle nests are filled with marzipan, dried fruits, and covered with honey or syrup. Then they are baked and ready. Although they may seem very complicated to do, they are quite simple, you only need to acquire a little dexterity manipulating the kataifi, to make the birds nest. The rest is pretty simple.
Birds Nest fillings
Nuts are a fundamental ingredient in Middle Eastern pastries. Naturally, the bird's nests are filled with nuts. More specifically, marzipan, and whole nuts.
The base of the nests is filled with a compact piece of marzipan, and different nuts are placed on it. In our case, we use cashews, but the most common are pistachios.
New trends in fusion pastries fill the nests with varieties of chocolate, white or dark, and less traditional nuts such as hazelnuts or walnuts. The reality is that kataifi has a fairly neutral flavor and works well with many different fillings.
Syrup or Honey?
Without a doubt, honey is the indicated ingredient for bird nests. Personally, I like to flavor honey with orange blossom or rose water. In case you don't have honey, the recipe also works by preparing a syrup that contains one-part water and two parts sugar. This syrup should also be flavored, preferably with citrus peels.
A tip before continuing with the recipe. Forming the nests may take a little practice. So, if this is your first time making a bird's nest, it is recommended that you use a cupcake pan to ensure that all nests are the same size. Likewise, to make the cavity in the nest, you can use any cylindrical object that allows you to do so.