Dinner at the Moroccan Soup Bar usually ends with a plate of little shortbreads and pastries stuffed with dates or nuts and dripping with sweet syrup. The Moroccan Soup Bar cookbook contains a couple such recipes, but also some heartier sweet treats including sfenj/doughnuts and muhallabiya.
As I mentioned in my last Moroccan Soup Bar post, muhallabiya is a dairy-based pudding flavoured with orange and lemon, drizzled with syrup and scattered with pistachios. I made little cups of it to finish a meal with Michael and our two brothers just after Christmas. More recently, Michael's mum and her two sisters visited us for dinner; on this occasion I tried churning and freezing the pudding as an icecream!
Assafiri welcomes adaptations to her recipes and icecream-churning isn't the only change I made. On both occasions I increased the orange and lemon quantities. I should've known it would curdle the milk (!), but thankfully the mixture smooths right out as the cornflour cooks and thickens. I had a lot of syrup left over, and I can recommend it as a lovely flavouring for soda water (vodka optional).
This dessert is delightful in both incarnations. As a pudding, it's creamy and just-barely-set with a strong citrus flavour. As an icecream it's a little powdery and more subtly flavoured. I already have an awfully similar recipe on the blog, actually, and its use of eggs instead of cornflour probably yields a smoother, richer scoop. Nevertheless, it's been fun to get to know muhallabiya better this summer.
(recipe adapted from Hana Assafiri's Moroccan Soup Bar)
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
1/4 cup cornflour
zest and juice of 1 orange
zest and juice of 1 lemon
pinch of saffron
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup pistachios, roughly chopped, to garnish
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons orange blossom water
juice of 1/2 orange
1/4 cup water
squeeze of lemon juice
Whisk together the milk and cream in a medium-large saucepan and set them over high heat. In a small cup dissolve the cornflour with 1-2 tablespoons of water, then pour it all into the saucepan. Stir in the orange and lemon zest and juice; don't panic if the mixture curdles, it will smooth out later. Stir in the saffron and sugar and bring it all to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow it all to simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly - it should be smooth and custardy.
To make cool puddings, pour the mixture into serving cups and refrigerate them for at least 2 hours. To make icecream, refrigerate the mixture until very cold, at least 4 hours and ideally overnight. Pour it into an icecream maker and churn, then freeze the icecream in an airtight container for at least 4 hours.
To make the syrup, place all of the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring them to the boil, and continue boiling for 10 minutes. Allow the syrup to cool down to room temperature.
To serve, drizzle the syrup over single serves of the pudding or icecream and scatter over the chopped pistachios.