My hands down, my absolute favorite Greek dessert has always been Ekmek Kataifi. I loved it so much that I even opted for this dessert instead of a cake for sweet sixteen birthday party, serving sixty guests. Growing up in NYC, this dessert was readily availble to me because Queens has so many Greek pastry shops and cafes like Oasis in Flushing and Omonia in Astoria.
When I moved to LA twelve years ago, there wasn’t even one! So every year that I visited NYC, one of the first things I did was to visit a Greek cafe, order my ekmek and a hot Nascafe coffee, and savor the Greek flavors that I love so much. In the most recent years, we finally have a Greek bakery cafe out in Long Beach, that makes a wonderful ekmek, called Pietris.
However, if you are following a gluten free, grain free or sugar free lifestyle, the traditional ekmek may not be an option for you!
Katifi is basically shredded wheat. It is the base layer of this dessert. It is sweetened with a lemony honey or sugar syrup. The middle layer is vanilla pastry cream that is reminiscent of custard, and the top layer is sweetened whipped cream, garnished with either pistachios or sliced almonds.
Well I did a thing earlier this week and figured out how to make it keto and low carb friendly, gluten free and even sugar free. As I have been searching out recipes to learn how to make this special dessert, I discovered that there is a common version that is made with anything from stale cake, tsoureki, to dry toast. Well I thought why not attempt this with my choux pastry dough.
I baked some unsweetend choux yesterday, sliced them in half and toasted them to dry them out. Laid them out in a 9×9 glass baking pan. Poured on my low carb version of the lemon honey syrup. Topped it with my keto pastry cream and whipped cream. Let it set for a few hours in the refrigerator and WALA!!!! It’s perfect!!!!
I can not tell you how excited I am to share it with all of you.
Choux Pastry Dough Ingredients:
2/3 cups super fine almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 tbsp ground psyllium husk
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 cups water
1/4 cup butter
1/4 tsp of salt
3 eggs (room temperature is best)
1tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
Here is the link for details on the choux pastry.
Syrup Ingredients for the base layer of choux:
1/2 cup of honey or sugar free sweetener
1/2 cup of water
peel of 1 lemon
Pastry Cream Ingredients:
3 cups of heavy cream
1/2 cup of water
6 egg yolks
1/2 stick of cold butter
1/4 tsp pure monk fruit of 1/2 cup of your favorite sweetener
1 tsp xanthan gum
Pinch of salt
Piece of lemon peel
Whipped Topping Ingredients:
1 cup of heavy cream
2 tbsp of powdered sweetener
1/2 cup of chopped raw pistachios
Start with making your choux pastry. Follow the directios in the link. I did not include the sweeneter because this layer will be soaked in syrup.
Simmer the ingredients for the syrup together for 10 to 15 minutes and allow it to cool completely.
Slice off the tops of the choux. You can allow it to dry out overnight, or in the oven. You can also toast it. I toasted it with a little butter straight in my pan because I made everything in one day. You can split this up however, and make them a day or two before.
Lay the toasted or dried out choux in a 9×9 baking pan, and fill in all of the the spaces. You might have to break a few apart to fill in the holes. Then pour your syurp on that and allow it all to soak in while you make the pastry cream.
In a medium sauce pan, warm up your heavy cream, water & lemon peel. Why have I added water to this? Because this is usually made with milk, and I wanted to thin out the cream just a little bit, but not add carbs.
Separate your room temperature eggs. (Save your egg whites for something else like meringue, a pavlova or an egg white omelette). Gently beat your egg yolks, sweetener, vanilla extract, pinch of salt. When the cream starts to simmer, remove from heat & temper your eggs. You do this by ladling a little bit of the cream into the eggs, stirring the eggs so that they become the same temperature as the cream, and do not curdle. Combine the eggs with the cream, turn the heat to medium and whisk continuously till it has thickened a bit. Sprinkle the xanthan gum over the hot liquid and whisk it in well, continuing to cook it. You will see it come together rather quickly. Turn off the heat and stir and the pieces of cold butter so that the pastry cream now becomes beautiful and silky!
I like to put it through a strainer to be sure that it is smooth & no little bits of scrambled eggs accidentally occurred!
Pour that over the choux layer that has already soaked up the syrup. Press a layer of plastic wrap on top of the surface of the pastry cream so that it does not form a skin as it cools, and place it in the refrigerator. It will need to set for a couple of hours. You want it to cool completely because the next layer is cold whipped cream.
Make your whipped cream. Using your whisk attachment, whip your cold heavy cream and powdered sweetener together until you get stiff peaks.
Remove the plastic wrap from the pastry cream layer, and spread the whipped cream over it. It is traditional to make grooved designs on the top layer. You can gently run your fork along the top and make the grooves.
Sprinkle pistachios or almond flakes, slice and serve!
This makes 8 servings!