There are several different names for this decedent dessert and just as many, if not more, preparations. Some referred to it as knafeh, but our family calls this Marshooshi or Ossmalleya. So today, I will be sharing my Ossamlleya with Ashta Recipe.
This is a dish with shredded, crisp phyllo, layered upon a rich clotted cream or cheese filling and drizzled with simple syrup. The shredded phyllo is available in most middle eastern grocery stores. I’ve also found it in a local Kroger store and it was made by the brand Athens.
As mentioned above, there are many variations of this dessert. The most traditional of preparations goes by the name Knafeh, which is filled with akawi cheese (squeaky cheese). The cheese is mild and does not have a high salt content. It is sometimes mixed with mozzarella cheese to add texture and the great ‘stringy’ cheese effect we often look for. A popular knafeh comes from Nablus in Palestine. The phyllo is dyed an orange-red color.
To make this preparation of knafeh, be sure to soak your cheese in water for several hours, to help draw any of the salt from the cheese. Change the water several times during this process. You would need about 1 pound of cheese.
For the ashta, I make my own using white bread, whole milk, cream and a bit of sugar. I allow that to cool completely and blend it with ricotta cheese. With this preparation, I did not need cornstarch to thicken. I would recommend using a high quality milk from a local dairy.
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon rose water
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 3 cups cubed white bread (about 5 slices), crust removed
- 1 cup ricotta cheese (reserved)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
- 1 pound shredded phyllo dough (this is one package Athens brand)
- 1 cup melted unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon butter at room temperature
- 1/4 cup crushed pistachios, for garnish
- Begin by making your ashta. In a saucepan, combine your milk, heavy cream, rose water, sugar and cubed bread. Allow the bread to absorb the milk and cream for about 10 minutes.
- Place the saucepan over medium heat, and using a whisk, continue whisking until the bread is completely dissolved and the mixture has thickened, this will take about 15 minutes.
- Transfer ashta into a bowl and allow to cool.
- Heat sugar and water in a sauce pan over medium heat.
- Allow to simmer until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear.
- Remove from heat and stir in orange blossom water
- Allow to cool completely.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
- Prepare a 12 inch round baking pan by spreading 1 tablespoon butter around the pan
- In a large bowl, toss the shredded phyllo in the melted butter, ensuring all the phyllo is coated in butter
- Place half the phyllo in the bottom of the pan, pressing it down gently.
- Fold 2 cups of ashta with 1 cup ricotta cheese and spread it over the layer of phyllo.
- Top the cheese layer with the remaining phyllo and place into the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and immediately pour the simple syrup over the top
- Run knife along the edges of pan and flip onto your serving plate
- Sprinkle with crushed pistachios
- Enjoy 🙂
You may wish to double the simple syrup recipe, to have additional syrup for serving
Adding edible flowers makes for a lovely garnish
In my opinion, this is best served warm
Make this dish? I’d love to see! Please tag me using #CreateAmandasPlate 🙂