A byproduct of the Georgian wine industry. In “Nanuchka”, a popular- now shuttered- restaurant in Tel Aviv they served it sliced, but the addicts buy a whole link and bring it home. This recipe can be served two ways: traditionally, or the basic dessert, which saves the hanging and drying process. Please note, if going traditional, preparation also requires a sewing needle and a thick, strong thread.
Ingredients for Churchkhela – Georgian Sweet
- 6½ cups (750 grams) walnuts quartered
For the grape custard:
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (160 grams) flour
- 6 tablespoons (75 grams) Sugar
- 1 cup (250 ml) wine
- 1 cup (250 ml) grape juice
- ½ cup (250 ml) raspberry juice
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
- ¼ tablespoon paste
1. Using a needle, string the quartered walnuts on a thread, leaving a long piece of thread at both ends. On one end, tie a loop knot over an inch/3cm in diameter so the chain can be hung up to dry.
2. The custard: place the flour and sugar in a heavy-bottomed pot and cook on a low flame for about 2 minutes, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. Add the liquid ingredients and stir for 10 to 15 minutes until a thick batter forms. Add the honey and tamarind paste and stir until the batter is homogeneous. Sweeten to taste – you can either add sugar or dilute the custard with a little water, but the batter needs to remain thick. Remove from the heat.
3. While the batter is still very hot, dip a chain of walnuts in it, covering it with a thick layer of the batter. Remove and hang up to dry at room temperature. Dip the remaining chains in the batter and hang them up to dry as well. To absorb the liquid that will drip from the hanging chains, make sure to put newspapers on the floor ahead of time. Allow the chains to dry for 4 to 5 days, or for 3 days if you want a thicker chain. Using the same ingredients, prepare a new batter and dip the chains in it again.
4. If serving just the custard: prepare the batter in the same manner. Put some walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds and raisins in small bowls. Pour the warm custard over them and set aside to cool. The dessert can be eaten either hot or cold.
Variation: the walnuts can be substituted with whole hazelnuts and raisins can be strung up between the walnuts.
This recipe is courtesy of Hashulchan.