I don’t have a sweet tooth. My go to snacks are dates, mulberries, almonds and walnuts. However, there are a few things I can’t resist; pistachio ice cream, our Afghan butter cookies and Sheer payra, Afghanistan’s fudge.
Recently a friend asked about Sheerpayra, so I cast a wide net for possible recipes. My friend Helen Saberi kindly referred me to her recipe in Afghan Food & Cookery*. My sister Nabila shared her wisdom and lessons learned from previous attempts to make this mouth watering delight.
It turns out making Sheerpayra requires a great deal of precision and patience, the two qualities I lack. So, I created my own fast and easy recipe which, turns out a killer tasting Sheer payra. Since milk and sugar are at a premium in Afghanistan, this sweet is served at Eid holidays, weddings, baby births and of course for very special guests.
Perhaps this valentine, you can skip the chocolate and give your sweetheart a box of our "Afghan Rosewater, Cardamom Fudge".
Afghan Rosewater, Cardamom Fudge
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water
1¼ cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups powdered milk
1 teaspoon rosewater
1 teaspoon cardamom
2 tablespoons walnuts, finely chopped
2 tablespoons almonds, finely chopped
2 tablespoons pistachios, finely chopped
Lightly butter a glass or metal pan, approximately 7x11 inches and 1-2 inches deep.
Time is of essence in this recipe. For best resutls, have all your ingredients measured and accessible in your work area before you go to the next step.
Add the water in a heavy bottomed sauce-pan, cook the sugar and salt over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar melts, around 3-4 minutes. Turn the heat up to high, bring to a boil, stir constantly for 2 minutes, a white foam will form on the syrup and it will thicken.
Remove pot from heat and move to your work area. Drizzle the powdered milk in the pot, as you stir, a creamy smooth mixture will form. Add rosewater, cardamom, almonds and walnuts. Mix well, making sure the nuts are distributed evenly in the batter.
Pour the mixture into the pan, scraping all the extras from the sides of the pan. It should spread out but if it doesn’t, use the back of a spatula to flatten it evenly. Sprinkle with pistachios and set to cool, approximately 1-2 hours.
Cut with a sharp knife in 2x2 inch squares, serve with a cup of black tea or coffee. Store the extra in in an air tight container or ziploc bag. Do not refrigerate, keep at room temperature.
* Afghan Food and Cookery by Helen Saberi