Muhalabia is a Middle Eastern milk pudding similar to Italian panna cotta but finished with rose water and pistachios. It has a smooth and creamy texture with a delicate sweetness. Plus, it can be made in advance. This delicious, easy, gluten- and fuss-free dessert is perfect for a holiday brunch or dinner party. This recipe will yield four 1-cup servings or eight ½-cup servings.
2tablespoonsunsalted shelled pistachios,crushed, for garnish
For the macerated strawberries:
1poundstrawberries,stems removed and quartered
To Make the Muhalabia (Milk Pudding):
Make the pudding: In a cold medium saucepan, whisk together the milk, sugar, and cornstarch until the cornstarch and the sugar have dissolved completely.
Heat the milk: Set the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a gentle boil. Whisk constantly so the milk doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat to medium and continue to whisk until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes.
Season the pudding: Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the rose water.
Chill: Divide the pudding into 4-8 individual cups. Make sure to leave some space for the macerated strawberries. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate until the pudding is completely set and firm, about 2-3 hours or up to 2 days.
To Make the Maccerated Strawberries:
Season the strawberries: In a medium bowl, stir together the strawberries, sugar, and rosewater. Let stand at room temperature until the juices are released, at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. After at least 30 minutes, refrigerate until you are ready to serve (up to one day).
Garnish and serve: Top the pudding with macerated strawberries. Garnish with the crushed pistachios and serve cold.
This recipe can be tweaked to your taste. Add more sugar if you have a sweet tooth, or add cinnamon, nutmeg, or other spices to give a depth of flavor.
Keep a close eye on things while you thicken the milk–whisk constantly to avoid any scorching.