According to legend, when his Ark made landfall, Noah’s family threw whatever was left in the larder into a pot and transformed it into ashure, a celebratory pudding of grains, nuts, seeds and dried fruits. The cereal is eaten throughout the Middle East, but especially in Turkey, where the dish somehow transcends typical religious tensions and holds significance for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. But according to Sarit Packer, co-chef of London’s Honey & Co. restaurant, “It’s actually quite disgusting.” Ashure is essentially a porridge, so when it cools down, it gets stiff and gloopy, like cold oatmeal. Guided by her memory of the sugary, crisp grain cereals she tasted when she first visited the United States as a child, Ms. Packer tweaked the recipe. She made a honey syrup spiked with all of the classic ashure flavorings, including cinnamon, cardamom and a spice called mahaleb (available at your local Middle Eastern grocery store or online). She drizzled the syrup over a mixture of puffed wheat, nuts and seeds, and baked the whole thing into a gloriously crisp mass. Her version looks like cross between granola and Cracker Jack, with dark, shiny brown clusters of puffed wheat, almonds, pecans and seeds. It’s somehow simultaneously light and rich, sweet and savory, crisp and full of air. Serve it as Ms. Packer does, over yogurt with fresh berries or pomegranate seeds, eat it as her parents do, drowned in a bowl of milk, or just sneak some out of the bag anytime you want a crunchy snack.
- Serves: 10 persons
- ½cup/85 grams neutral-tasting oil, such as canola
- 6tablespoons/110 grams honey
- ½cup/110 grams dark brown sugar, packed
- 1teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½teaspoon ground mahaleb
- ½teaspoon ground cardamom
- 10cups/160 grams puffed wheat
- Scant 3/4 cup/85 grams halved pecans
- ⅓cup/50 grams pumpkin seeds
- 3tablespoons/30 grams sesame seeds
- ½cup/85 grams almonds, very roughly chopped
Step 1Adjust oven racks to lower-middle and upper-middle positions. Heat to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
Step 2Combine oil, honey and sugar in a medium saucepan, and set over medium-high heat. Whisk well, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.
Step 3In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients, and mix well. Once the honey mixture comes to a boil, carefully pour it over the dry ingredients. Working quickly, use a large silicone spatula to stir, turning the contents of the bowl over until everything is coated evenly with the syrup. Transfer mixture to baking sheets, and use spatula to flatten out cereal into an even layer.
Step 4Place baking sheets on prepared oven racks, and bake for 10 minutes. Carefully remove 1 tray at a time, and use spatula to stir cereal around. Rotate trays 180 degrees, and switch oven positions to ensure even baking. Bake for 4 to 6 minutes longer, until golden brown and well caramelized. Remove from oven, and allow to cool entirely on the trays before breaking cereal into large clusters.
Step 5Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.