As the summer gets hotter each and every day, we try to adjust to the temperatures: eat lighter, drink cooler, shed some layers, invest in good quality sun glasses and search for refrigerated dessert recipes.
As I was strolling through the aisles of Halal Market the other day, loading up on my regular Turkish items like cheese, olives, olive oil, grains while the butcher was preparing my lamb order, I noticed gullac sheets on the shelf. Boxes and boxes of it stacked on top of each other. That reminded me two things: Rose water and Ramadan nights.
Gullac sheets are dry, white , paper thin dough sheets made of wheat flour and corn starch. I have not seen anyone making these sheets at home in Turkey, we always buy it from the stores, especially from the old-time bakeries. The sheets are used in a simple dessert, carrying the same name and the dessert is very popular one during Ramadan. I can not say that I loved the dessert when I was growing up since I really did not care for the rose water smell that much and ate it on seldom occasions – mostly when I could not refuse it due to being a guest at someone else’s house.
The boxes were just staring me in the eye on those shelves, so I gave in and bought one. I decided to skip rose water so that I could eat this time. I compared the recipes in my mom’s notebook and the recipe on the box. The recipes included way too much sugar for me so after a phone consultation with my mom and grandma, settled on some approximate amounts. My mom’s approach was to add sugar gradually to the milk while milk is heating so that I could taste as I go and stop when it reached the perfect taste for me. And since I was not making a syrup, I could make up more milk-sugar mixture and add if I did not have enough.
The recipe is really simple: Heat milk and sugar in a pot and when it is hot enough to burn your finger but not boiling, turn off the stove, add rosewater and start layering milk and sheets. You can add ground or finely chopped pistachios or walnuts in between the sheets if you would like. I actually added somewhat more sugar than my stopping point, thinking the bland taste of sheets will offset the taste a bit. I think it worked. 400 grs of sheets absorbed all the milk, so if you want more soggy dessert, you can increase the milk and sugar amounts according to your taste.Then cool it in the fridge for several hours before you serve.
You can make the dessert in a one big tray, if you have one that is wide enough to fit the sheets in or you can break the sheets to fit in the pan you have. Can even make individual ones. Traditional topping is pomegranate seeds but we are pistachio lovers in this house.
Now it is a tad bit easier to handle the South Carolina heat!
(amounts are approximate and personal preference)
- 400 grs of Gullac sheets (12-14 sheets)
- 1.5 lt (6 cups) of whole milk
- 2.5 cups of granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- A handful of coarsely chopped pistachios (you can substitute your preferred nuts)
1. Heat milk and sugar on medium heat until milk is very hot but not boling.
2. Turn off the stove, add vanilla,stir to mix.
3. Place one sheet in your tray, pour one ladle of hot milk all over the sheet. The sheet will get soft and wrinkly. You can shape it any way you want.
4. Add another sheet and repeat with ladling the milk over the sheet,making sure all parts come in contact with hot milk.
5. Once you are done, pour any remaining milk over the sheets, making sure all of the sheets are soaked. Cool to the room temperature, cover and put it in the fridge. Serve cold, decorated with pistachios.