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.
BAKLAVA IN THE SHAPE OF BIRDS NEST0
Detailed step-by-step recipe to prepare birds nest with kataifi noodles.
250 g. kataifi pasta
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted, 180 g.
¾ cup of cashews, 100 g.
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
60 g. marzipan
½ cup of honey
15 ml. orange blossom water
For the syrup:
Preheat the oven to 150 ° C / 300 ° F. Remove the kataifi paste from the wrapper. Place it in a deep dish, and cover it with a damp kitchen towel, to avoid dehydration. If the kataifi dries up, it will be impossible to form the nests.
Take some kataifi, and lay it flat on a flat surface. Then, with a kitchen brush, apply a little melted butter. Remember to use unsalted butter.
Then with your fingers, distribute the butter better, and organize the kataifi strands to proceed to roll it.
Roll up the kataifi, always with your fingers in the center, forming a nest. Make sure you leave enough room in the center. Place the nest in the cavity of a cupcake mold, and with your fingers mold it towards the sides of the mold and to form the central hole of the nest. Repeat this procedure until the noodles are gone.
Take the tray with the nests to the oven for approximately 45 minutes, until they look golden brown.
While the nests are cooking, toast the cashews and cinnamon in a skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly until golden brown. In a small bowl mix the honey with the orange blossom water, stirring vigorously. Let them rest.
Remove the nests from the oven, and while they are still warm, add a teaspoon of melted butter to the cavity of each nest. Very carefully remove them from the mold. Remember that you can use silicone cups or molds. Although if you think you can mold the nests well, you will only need a flat tray.
Place the nests on a tray. Then, take half a tablespoon of Marzipan and make a squashed ball, and put it in the bottom of a nest. Fill the rest of the nest with cashews. Repeat this procedure for all the nests.
Next, cover each nest with a tablespoon of honey. Make sure the cashews have honey on top. Let them rest for about fifteen minutes until they are totally cold, and you are ready to enjoy the Baklava.