Photo Credit: Alexandra Grablewski
Meaning “the nightingale’s nest” in Arabic, Eish al BolBol is one of the most ornate and sumptuous Lebanese desserts. Shredded phyllo dough is shaped into small birds’ nests, then filled with vibrant green pistachios resembling bird eggs, and coated with aromatic rose water syrup. This dessert is one of my mother’s favorite to make. I’ve simplified the steps to make it easy.
MAKES 20 PHYLLO NESTS
10 sheets Athens Fillo Dough (9" x14"), thawed in the box to room temperature for 1 hour
2 cups raw, unsalted, shelled pistachios
1⁄2 cup sugar
1 cup Samneh (Clarified Butter), warm
2 teaspoons rose water
2 cups rose water syrup
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
To make the pistachio filling, combine the nuts and sugar in a food processor and coarsely grind into small pebblelike pieces. Transfer the mixture to a small mixing bowl, and add 2 tablespoons of the clarified butter and the rose water. Stir the ingredients together so they are completely incorporated and somewhat moist.
Remove 10 sheets of the phyllo dough from the plastic wrapping and box, and unroll the sheets onto a smooth, dry surface keeping the plastic wrapping underneath. Rewrap the rest and refrigerate for future use. Using a small, sharp knife, slice the sheets in half horizontally to create two sections of 10 sheets; 20 sheets in total. Cover the phyllo sheets with a damp, clean kitchen towel.
Dip the pastry brush in the remaining clarified butter and lightly grease the bottoms of two 12 x 17-inch baking sheets. Take a piece of phyllo dough, working with one at a time, and lay it in front of you on a diagonal. Lightly brush the entire sheet with butter placing the rolling pin in the bottom corner of the dough. Roll the dough around the rolling pin firmly, leaving about 1⁄2 inch at the top end corner. Brush the top end corner with butter again, then roll up to seal.
Slowly slide one hand down the rolling pin to gently scrunch the dough sheet into an accordion-like shape. Once you get three-quarters of the way down the pin, stop, and slide it off the end using your other hand. Then, take both ends of the accordion-shaped sheet and gently stretch them out, then wrap them around, while retaining the rippled texture. Bring both ends together and then tuck one end under the other to enclose. Place the nests onto the buttered baking sheets, spacing them evenly apart and lightly brush the sides of each with clarified butter. You should have 20 nests. (see step-by-step tutorial photos).
Fill each nest with about 1 tablespoon of the ground pistachio mixture and add a couple of drops of clarified butter on top of the filling. Bake each batch on the center rack of the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes until the nests are light golden. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then drizzle each nest with 1 tablespoon of rose water syrup.
Allow to set for a few minutes before serving.
NOTE: You will need a pastry brush, two 12 x 17-inch baking sheets, a clean kitchen towel, and a thin rolling pin (see Julie Taboulie Mediterranean Rolling Pin) or use the end of a long, thin wooden spoon.
Copyright 2017 by Julie Ann Sageer in Julie Taboulie’s Lebanese Kitchen, St. Martin’s Press/St. Martin’s Griffin. All Rights Reserved.
RECIPE BY JULIE ANN SAGEER (JULIE TABOULIE)
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