This creamy, milk-based pudding is one of the most popular desserts across the Middle East, including in Israel, where it is sold from kiosks as street food and also served at upscale restaurants. Malabi is traditionally flavored with rose water, drizzled with either silan (date syrup) or raspberry syrup, and sprinkled with shredded coconut or chopped pistachios. This riff on the classic tops the dessert instead with a decadent layer of salted caramel and a sprinkle of crunchy roasted peanuts. It makes an elegant ending to a festive meal.
Reprinted from Little Book of Jewish Sweets by Leah Koenig with permission by Chronicle Books, 2019.
For the malabi:
- 4 cups [960 ml] milk
- 1/2 cup [70 g] cornstarch
- 1/2 cup [100 g] sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the salted caramel:
- 1 cup [200 g] sugar
- 1/4 cup [60 ml] water
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup [120 ml] heavy cream
- chopped roasted, salted peanuts for sprinkling
- Make the malabi: Whisk together 1 cup [240 ml] of the milk and the cornstarch until the cornstarch fully dissolves; set aside.
- Whisk together the remaining 3 cups [720 ml] milk and the sugar in a medium saucepan. Set over medium heat and bring to a simmer, whisking often. Add the cornstarch-milk mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of loose pudding, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Divide the mixture evenly among six small serving bowls and let cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours.
- Make the caramel: Stir together the sugar and water in a medium saucepan, and set over medium-high heat. Cook (do not stir) until the sugar turns a deep amber color, about 10 minutes. Carefully add the butter (it will cause the sugar to bubble up) and salt, and stir to combine. Slowly whisk in the cream and continue to cook, whisking often, until the caramel is smooth and thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
- Just before serving, drizzle caramel over each malabi cup (reserving the remaining caramel for another use) and sprinkle with peanuts. Serve cold.