Saturday, September 6, 2014

Kadaif Bird’s Nests with Custard and Fresh Fruit

What does one do with a half-pound of kadaif (spelling varies!) dough left in the freezer? Make bird’s nests, of course! 
What filling would one use to complete this recipe? Any kind you’d like.

Since I had the opportunity to make the bird’s nest dessert for friends, I chose to fill the centers with the type of creamy custard one would make for custard-filled kadaif, but you could fill the centers with anything you like. 
Variations can include – but are not limited to - any type of custard, pudding, yogurt (frozen or otherwise), or ice cream of your choice. Fruit and/or nuts can also be added as a filling or garnish. The possibilities are endless! 

The blueberries have been quite delicious and plentiful these past few weeks, so I chose to add them for a burst of fruity flavor, and a pop of color.
What I really like about this recipe is that the custard and bird’s nests can be made in advance and assembled at the last minute.
Kadaif Bird's Nests with Custard and Blueberries
Kadaif Bird’s Nests with Custard and Fresh Fruit

Custard filling

3 egg yolks (Save egg whites for another use.)
½ cup sugar
½ cup farina
1 ½ Tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch salt
3 cups milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract, optional

1. In a saucepan, beat egg yolks with the sugar. 
2. Add the farina, cornstarch, and salt.
3. Slowly pour in the milk; add vanilla, if using. Cook mixture over low heat, stirring constantly until it thickens, about 10 to 12 minutes. (Note: Keep a close watch while stirring; don’t even think about walking away! Do not allow mixture to boil. Custard will thicken more as it cools in the refrigerator.)

4. Remove from heat; allow to cool slightly. Transfer to a bowl; place plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding to prevent a ‘skin’ from forming on top. Cover bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
(NOTE: The custard can be made a day or two in advance.)

Shredded Phyllo Cups
The half package of kadaif dough yields about 18 muffin-size servings. (Kadaif dough is available in most Middle Eastern stores.)

½ of a 1 lb. pkg. kadaif dough, thawed and brought to room temp.
1 stick unsalted butter, melted (If you are so inclined, you could use clarified butter.)

1. Separate the strands of dough with your fingers, untangling it as you go. (NOTE: I cut the kadaif dough bundle into thirds with a serrated knife before separating the strands.) Place strands in a large bowl and pour melted butter over it. Work this in with your fingers so that the dough strands are well-buttered. It’s messy, but necessary!

2. Place small equal-size mounds of buttered dough in a muffin tin. Lightly press to take shape of the muffin cup. Make sure there are enough dough strands on the bottom to support the custard filling later on. Let this sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before baking.
3. Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake for about 15 minutes or until the dough is golden throughout.
Place muffin tin on a cooling rack, allowing nests to cool slightly while in the tin. Carefully remove the nests from the tin and place them directly on the cooling rack to cool completely. (NOTE: This part can be done in advance. Store the baked nests in a container with a tight-fitting lid until ready to fill and serve. These can be refrigerated or frozen if being served at a later date.)

To assemble and serve:
When ready to serve, place each baked kadaif cup on an individual plate. Fill with custard, top with fresh berries of your choice, chopped nuts, or sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.

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