If I had to pick a single favorite dessert, this would be it. Made with the same basic ingredients as baklava (walnuts, simple syrup, butter), the phyllo that comprises the kataifi is in strings instead of sheets and is notoriously hard to work with so my mother never made it when I was a kid. Instead, I would get to taste the sweet deliciousness at Greek festivals and over the summers. Perhaps that elusiveness has something to do with the added appeal for me.
One Christmas, my grandmother made and sent over (from Greece) a whole tray of kataifi just for me. My mother lovingly put it in the oven…and promptly forgot about it. It was burned to a crisp. I was seriously distraught and I’m certain there were tears and other theatrical displays that were befitting of the funeral of a Greek pastry.
The kataifi in the picture above was store bought because we couldn’t find the appropriate phyllo dough on the island. I’m going to make a special request that my grandmother make me an entire tray to send over with my father in September and I will promise to stare at the kataifi the entire time that it is baking. If I’m being honest, I’ll also tell you that I will then consume in the next 24 hours. I simply can’t restrain myself when it comes to my grandmothers baking.