Muachaka (Phyllo Pastry)

Square of pastry topped with clotted cream and date syrup
Square of pastry topped with clotted cream and date syrup

This dessert has become tradition at almost every family gathering. It tastes delicious with tea or coffee, and it’s the perfect conclusion to a meal. Pillowy bundles of phyllo dough baked with cardamom, rose water, sugar, and butter, all topped with crushed pistachios. What could be better? My brother has become the champion of Muachaka, religiously following a specific assembly process, and ousting my mother from her role as queen Muachaka creator. At every family gathering, my brother’s Muachaka is in high demand. For this batch, and the photos below, I consulted the expert. I realize that I have spent much time describing what the dessert is, specifically. The best description, I think, is that Muachaka is a type of baklava. It’s not stuffed with nuts, or soaked in a simple syrup, but it has a lot of the same elements as many baklava varieties. We usually eat the final product with a dollup of gaimer, or clotted cream, and date syrup. Give it a go. It’s delicious, and I promise, you won’t regret it!

Ingredients

1 package phyllo dough

2 sticks butter, room temperature, for clarifying

1 cup milk

1 cup sugar

1 tsp rose water

2 tsp cardamom

4 eggs 1/2 sheet tray

Clarifying Butter

Clarifying butter is a process that removes the water and milk solids. Clarified butter has a higher burning point than regular butter. In a saucepan, place the two sticks of butter. On low heat, melt the butter and let it come to a gentle boil. A layer of foam will develop on the top; the foam is the milk solids. Scoop out the foam. Strain the melted butter with a cheese cloth or a damp paper towel.

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. After you open the phyllo package, unroll the dough and cut it in half. Leave half of the dough covered, while you work with the other half. Phyllo dough dries easily and begins to crack, so make sure that the dough is carefully covered! One half-sheet at a time, gently gather the phyllo dough to form a bundle that resembles a flower. Place the bundles in the tray. Don’t press too hard, since you want the dough to stay fluffy. If it proves too challenging, simply fold the whole sheets of phyllo dough accordion style, and place them in the tray.

Andre folding the phyllo dough into florets

Repeat until you have used all of the phyllo dough, or until the tray is full. Put the tray into the oven, and bake the phyllo dough for 10 minutes.

Take the tray out of the oven. Slowly pour the butter over the phyllo dough, spreading it as evenly as possible. Put the tray in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes.

Pouring melted clarified butter over the phyllo pastry

While the dough is in the oven, beat the eggs, sugar, cardamom, and rose water in a medium bowl. Slowly pour the milk into the bowl while stirring. Strain the mixture.

When the tray comes out of the oven, pour the egg-sugar mixture over the phyllo dough as evenly as possible.

Mochika 025

Bake for another 10 minutes. After the im’ochika is done baking, sprinkle crushed pistachios over the phyllo dough. Let the tray cool for about 10 minutes, then slice the phyllo dough into squares. Enjoy!

Completed phyllo pastry topped with crushed pistachios

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