Crispy fillo dough that is filled with cream (Ashta) then deep fried until golden brown and soaked in simple syrup! This is my all time favourite Middle Eastern dessert! They are great to feed a crowd and don’t take long to make!
Every year I look forward to having this treat after Iftar. I have to have it at least once during the holy month of Ramadan, it’s so good! After making them this month, my kids have become huge fans as well. My husband said they were delicious and that he wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not! 😉 I may have to restrain myself from making them too often since they’re not exactly the healthiest dessert but they are definitely the tastiest!
WHAT IS ZNOUD EL SIT?
This popular dessert usually makes its appearance during the holy month of Ramadan. You’ll find it in most Middle Eastern dessert shops. It’s fillo dough that is filled with a thickened cream called Ashta. It is then either baked or fried until golden brown then soaked in simple syrup.
When preparing this recipe, I like to make the syrup and the ashta ahead of time that way when I’m ready to roll the Znoud el sit, I have all the ingredients ready and available.
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL NEED:
1 box of fillo dough. I like to defrost it in the refrigerator overnight to use the next day.
Simple syrup to coat the rolls in after being fried.
Ashta to fill the rolls with.
Vegetable oil for frying.
Ground pistachios for a beautiful garnish. This is optional but recommended.
HOW DO I MAKE IT?
You’ll start by making the simple syrup. In a pot, you’ll boil sugar and water then add lemon and orange blossom and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow this to come to room temperature.
Next, you’ll make the ashta by adding heavy cream and bread to a pot and whisking until boiling point. Then you’ll add the cornstarch slurry along with orange blossom and continue mixing until it has thickened. Transfer to a bowl and place in the refrigerator to set for 3 hours.
On a flat surface, lay the fillo dough (still stacked) and cut into 4-5 equal strips depending on how big you like them.
Take 2 strips (still stacked) and lay on a flat surface. Then take 2 more strips and cut them in half and place on top of the first one to create a cross. Spoon the ashta to the center of the cross then fold the outer fillo sheets over the ashta. This will ensure the ashta is secure inside and will not seep out the sides when frying.
Next, carefully start rolling the longer strip over the ashta and continue rolling until you’ve reached the edge. Spread a little flour & water slurry to ‘glue’ the edges’.
Repeat the process for all the rolls.
TIPS TO MAKE ZNOUD EL SIT:
1. Make sure your fillo dough is fully defrosted before using.
2. Keep fillo dough covered with a towel when you’re not using it.
3. The ashta and simple syrup are best if they’re made ahead of time.
4. The oil should be hot when frying. They cook very quickly.
For the simple syrup:
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp orange blossom
For the ashta filling:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
3 slices bread, broken into small pieces (crust removed)
2.5 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp corn starch + 1/4 cup water
1 tsp orange blossom
1 box fillo dough (about 20-24 sheets)
1 tbsp flour mixed with 3 tablespoons water to create the "glue"
Vegetable oil for frying
Ground pistachios for garnish
- Start by making the simple syrup. In a pot add sugar and water. Stir then place on the stove on high heat. Bring to a boil then lower heat to medium. Add lemon & orange blossom. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat & allow to cool completely.
- Make the Ashta. In a pot pour whipping cream, sugar and broken pieces of bread, stir and put it on medium high heat. Stir continuously until it reaches a boil. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch & water; stir into milk mixture. It will thicken immediately, continue stirring for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in orange blossom. Pour into a container and allow to cool on the counter until room temperature, transfer to the fridge for 3 hours before using.
- Remove fillo from the refrigerator and lay on a flat surface. While stacked, cut fillo into 4-5 equal strips.
- Take 2 sheets of the filo and place on a flat surface. Then take 2 more sheets and cut in half. Take one of the stacked halves and place on top of the long strip to create a cross (See photos above)
- Spoon 1 tablespoon of ashta to the center of the cross then fold the short edges over the ashta.
- Fold the long strip over the ashta and start rolling.
- Brush some of the "glue" (flour/water mixture) along the edges to seal ensuring to brush both sheets to prevent it from opening in the oil.
- Repeat process until all the rolls have been rolled.
- Heat vegetable oil then gently drop the rolls in. Fry until deep golden brown then drain on a paper towel lined plate for 1 minute.
- Transfer rolls to the simple syrup and allow to soak for 2 minutes.
- Drain the syrup from the rolls and transfer to a serving plate.
- Garnish with pistachios.