How delicious do those mini-pancakes look in the picture up top!?
One word: YUMMY.
‘Atayef’ are one of my absolute favorite Lebanese desserts. They are little pancakes stuffed with ‘ashta’- which basically means ‘custard’ in Arabic.
Of course, like any other dish, there are many different recipes. The recipe, shown below, is the easiest way to make Atayef. Oh, and did I mention delicious?
Almost all of my recipes are adapted from my mom’s famous recipe collection (Thanks, mamma!).
This recipe makes about 25 little pancakes.
To make the ashta, you will need:
- 2 cups of ‘half-and-half’
- 3 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk (…try not to eat the rest of the can…)
- 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1 tablespoon of rose water
Over medium-high heat, add the half-and-half and condensed milk to a saucepan. Make sure you are stirring it occasionally so it does not burn. Mix together the cornstarch and water until smooth. When the half-and-half mixture starts bubbling, whisk in the cornstarch and water combination until it becomes very thick.
Once the mixture becomes thick, add the rose water and remove the combinations from the heat. Cool and refrigerate until need. Make sure that you top the custard with a plastic wrap.
To make the pancakes, you will need:
- 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. rapid-rise yeast
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1 and 3/4 cups of milk
- Non-stick spray or butter, as needed
Mix the flower, yeast, baking powder and sugar together in a bowl and add the milk. This bowl then needs to be set for about an hour in a warm location. Once an hour has passed, heat a non-stick pan and lightly grease it with butter. Add about 2 tablespoons of batter to the plan to form ~4-inch circles. Only cook the pancakes on ONE side. When the bubbles start to rise to the surface, and the top begins to dry out (this is your indicator that the pancakes are cooked), remove the pancake and set aside until they are fully cooled.
It is now time to assemble the pancakes! Take a pancake with the uncooked side facing up. Fold it into a half round gently pressing the edges (from the center to one end) together; the pancakes will look like little boats. This allows you to leave about half of the pancake open for the custard.
Once all the pancakes are assembled, add the custard. Some like to add extra custard and fill the boats up. Personally, I think too much of the custard will distort the taste!
To make the syrup, you will need:
- 1 and 1/4 cups of sugar
- 3/4 cup of water
- 1 and 1/2 tsp. of lemon juice
- 1 tsp. of rose water
The syrup is very easy to make! Add the water and sugar into a saucepan and place it over a medium-high heat. Like the custard, make sure that you stir it occasionally so that it does not burn. Once this mixture begins to boil, lower the heat and add the lemon juice. Let this cook for about 5 minutes until it slightly thickens. Finally, remove the mixture from the heat and add the rose blossom water. Set the syrup aside to cool until needed. I usually make double what the recipe calls for and I place the syrup in an empty travel-size bottle. Whatever I don’t use, I leave in the fridge as a sweetener for other desserts!
Now that we have made these delicious pancakes, it is time to serve them!
To serve the atayed, just slightly drizzle the syrup on the entire ‘boat.’ Some people like to use honey instead of the syrup- but I am not a big fan of honey! You can also add 1/4 cup of finely ground nuts like pistachio or walnuts to decorate the atayef.
Finally, my personal favorite part of this whole process, EAT THEM!