Lebanese Nights is a traditional Lebanese dessert that is popular throughout the Middle East. It consists of two layers, the bottom layer is a semolina pudding and the top layer is thick cream. It is also where I made my change and added a new addition to a very traditional recipe that took it to a whole new level.
Pistachio paste is a new spread that took the world by storm, especially here in the Middle East where pistachios play a large role in most of our traditional desserts. Having that in mind i decided to mix pistachio paste with the cream and lather it on top of the semolina pudding and the result took me by surprise.. it was amazing! So basically now this is the only way to eat Lebanese Nights :)
The semolina pudding consists of two main ingredients, milk and semolina which you then flavor with vanilla or orange blossom water or in my case I prefer mastic. Except I like to add an egg to the pudding giving it richness and it also helps the pudding hold together and come out beautifully when you serve it. This is not a must but it is highly recommended. For those who worry about any egg smell, the secret is powder vanilla. It will get rid of any unwanted smells on the spot.
- 1 cup fine semolina
- 1 liter whole milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 5-6 mastic beads (or 2 drops liquid mastic)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (liquid concentrate or powder)
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons pistachio paste
- 250 grams thick cream (ashta)
- 2 tablespoons crushed pistachios for garnish
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 squeeze of a lemon
- 1 drop green food coloring (optional)
- 1 drop liquid mastic
*Start by making the syrup by boiling the sugar and water. Once they boil add the lemon juice and turn the heat off. Add the food coloring and liquid mastic. If you do not have the liquid kind, don't add ground mastic beads they will end up sticking to your pan. Maybe add a touch of orange blossom water or leave it with no additives. Set the syrup aside to cool then put it in the fridge.
*Pour the room temp milk, fine semolina, and sugar into a pan and whisk. As it heats it will start to thicken. Make sure to NEVER leave it unattended, the semolina will sink to the bottom and burn.
*Once it boils, if you feel it is too thick add a bit of cream or milk and turn off the heat.
*Now is the tricky part, you need to work really fast for this. In one hand you are going to crack the egg and in the other you will whisk it as fast as you can as soon as it hits the pudding otherwise the egg will cook and curdle. Whisk it really well to blend the egg into the whole thing, then add the powdered vanilla and the mastic. If you are adding drops then you add them in at this point, if you're going to crush mastic beads and grind them, do so with a teaspoon of sugar to stop the mastic from sticking to each other. Make sure you do this at the last step to maintain the freshness of the scent and flavor.
*Plate the pudding in a large dish or in individual mini dishes, just don't fill them all the way up because we will be adding another layer of topping. Level the top of the pudding with the back of a spoon and leave it to cool then refrigerate it.
*Once it is nice and cold and before serving make the topping. Mix the pistachio paste with the thick cream or "ashta". Some pistachio paste brands will come thicker than others, in this case a 15 second pop in the microwave will help soften it a bit in order for it to blend easier with the cream. Once they are whisked well together, pour them on top of the now cold semolina pudding and spread evenly.
*Garnish with crushed or sliced pistachios.
*Don't forget the green syrup we made. After you plate a piece, this is for those who want their dessert to be a bit sweeter, you drizzle as much as you like syrup and enjoy. It is heavenly! The combination of the cold pudding flavored with mastic, the pistachio paste topping and the crushed pistachios is amazing. Add to that the cute cold green syrup also flavored with mastic and you will be making this everyday. Enjoy.