Mafroukeh is one of those simple, no-bake desserts that you can whip up when you’re in a hurry but still want to make something impressive. The combination of the thick, homemade cream with the unique texture of the semolina-pistachio base is to die for when it’s all topped off with orange blossom water infused sugar syrup. And guess what? It's all done on the stove and takes about 20 minutes to put together. This dessert is so versatile, you can make it in a round pan, a square pan, or even in individual cups. It might be simple, but you'll definitely be adding it to your list of favorites.
Ingredients You'll Need:
- Pistachios: You'll need shelled raw pistachios for this recipe. Some people like to peel them, which you can do by soaking them in hot water for a few minutes then rubbing off the skin. But I find that it doesn't really make a difference if you peel them or not.
- Semolina: Use coarse semolina. Fine semolina absorbs liquid differently so you won't get the right texture, and you'll end up with a soupy mess.
- Sugar: Both powdered sugar and regular white sugar are needed for mafroukeh.
- Ghee or Butter: I personally like the flavor ghee gives this dessert, but butter works perfectly fine.
- Milk: For the homemade ashta (cream). You can use any milk you like (skimmed, whole, half and half, etc.)
- Whipping Cream: The secret to making the perfect creamy ashta.
- Flour: You'll only need a couple of tablespoons of all-purpose flour which is what will thicken the ashta.
- Cornstarch: Also to thicken the creamy ashta.
- Orange Blossom Water: A tablespoon goes a long way, but you'll be adding some to your ashta as well as your simple syrup to make the perfect flower-infused mafroukeh.
- Lemon Juice: My aunt taught me to add a tiny bit of lemon juice to my simple syrup to intensify its flavors and thicken it up faster.
How To Make Homemade Cream (Ashta)
- Mix the flour, milk, and cornstarch in a medium-sized pot. Make sure they dissolve.
- On medium-high heat, start whisking the mixture until it starts bubbling.
- Keep whisking continuously until it starts to thicken.
- Once it thickens, take it off the heat and add the orange blossom water, mix and transfer to a bowl immediately.
- Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap touches the surface of the cream (so it doesn't form a film on the surface as it cools).
- Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
What is Semolina?
Made from a hard type of wheat called durum wheat, semolina is basically just a coarser flour. It’s usually used in pasta, bread, as well as baked goods, but it’s super well known for being used in semolina porridge. This is because it absorbs liquid really well. You'll usually find it at your local supermarket in the flour section.
In Syria and the rest of the Middle East, Semolina is very commonly used in numerous desserts and baked goods like basbousa and mamouniyeh and is what gives them their distinct grainy texture. Additionally, it’s commonly served in savory dishes as couscous in the place of rice.
Tips and Tricks
Don't over-process your pistachios. Over-processing your pistachios can turn them into pistachio butter, so only blend them up until they're a powder-like texture.
Make the simple syrup first, then the cream. Since you'll be using the syrup in the base semolina layer, have it ready first. You want to give the ashta enough time to cool before you assemble your mafroukeh layers.
Toast the semolina until golden. Some people like to just slightly heat up the semolina before adding water, but I personally like to toast it until golden. Toasted semolina really adds a special flavor that you're going to love.
Let the mafroukeh set. I know it can be tempting to slice right into it, but you really want to let the mafroukeh set in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably more. This way you'll really be able to cut it into clean slices.
Get creative with the presentation. I usually like to serve it in a springform pan (so you can see all the layers) and sprinkle the top with chopped pistachios. You can serve it in cupcake molds, in a square pan, cut into squares, etc. You can also top it with mixed nuts, dried rose petals, or chopped dried fruit.
Some Other Middle Eastern Desserts
If you're looking for more Middle Eastern desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth, here are some of my all time favorite recipes:
- Pistachio Baklava
- Date-Filled Cookies -Ka'ak Asawer
- Homemade Turkish Delight -Syrian Raha
- Baklava Rolls
- Basbousa Semolina Cake
- Stovetop Rice Pudding