Creamy, Warming Jasmine-White Chocolate Custard (Sachlav)

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I am in love with sachlav, an exquisite drinkable confection popular all over the Middle East. It falls somewhere between a dessert and a beverage, and often appears as part of a copious and delicious Israeli buffet breakfast (and in my case, lunch, dinner and midnight snack). The traditional flavoring is orange flower or rose water. A dusting of ground pistachios and cinnamon, plus a sprinkling of golden raisins and even flaked sweetened coconut, are sometimes added, though I prefer to leave out the last of these. I substituted dried tart cherries for the raisins and added some fragrant candied orange peel. I thought jasmine tea would make a delicious variation; and while the white chocolate is not traditional, it adds delicate flavor and creaminess. It’s a good idea to infuse the milk several hours or overnight to avoid bitterness, but if necessary, you can heat the milk as in Step 5 and infuse the tea bags for 3 minutes before proceeding with the recipe. You can serve 8-ounce portions in a coffee mug, but I prefer smaller servings: A cappuccino cupful or even a demitasse is all you need to either sweetly start or end the day.

  • 2 bags of jasmine green tea (I like Taylor’s), tags removed
  • 10 ounces plus 2 tablespoons milk, divided
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 ounce white chocolate, chopped into small dice
  • Finely chopped pistachios, for garnish (you can whiz the shelled nuts in a small food processor)
  • Finely chopped candied orange peel, for garnish, if desired
  • Finely chopped dried sour cherries, for garnish


  1. The night before, place the jasmine teabags in the 10 ounces of milk. Press down so that they are partially submerged. Give a stir, then cover and refrigerate. For a more spur-of-the-moment preparation, see Step 5.
  2. The next day, combine the cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Stir thoroughly to break up any lumps.
  3. Melt the white chocolate very carefully in a double boiler, watching it closely, as white chocolate can burn quickly. Stir with a spatula until only small lumps remain, then remove chocolate from the heat and stir once more.
  4. Stir the remaining 2 tablespoons of cold milk into the cornstarch mixture until smooth.
  5. Stir the tea bag-milk mixture, then remove tea bags from milk, squeezing slightly. Pour milk mixture into a small heavy saucepan, and place the saucepan over medium-low flame. Warm the mixture until you see small bubbles around the edge of the milk, stirring from time to time. (If you didn’t steep the tea in the milk overnight, you can add the teabags here, take the pan off the heat and allow to infuse 3 to 4 minutes. Remove teabags and slightly squeeze into the mixture before proceeding).
  6. Scrape the cornstarch-milk mixture into the scalded milk. Whisking constantly, heat mixture until thickened, about 4 to 6 minutes. It will coat the back of a spoon and a finger drawn across it will leave a streak. You can thicken a little further to the consistency you prefer: It can be pourable or spoonable. Once it approaches your preferred thickness, scoop a bit of the custard (about 1/3 cup) into the melted chocolate and combine well, then scrape this mixture back into the custard. Whisk until smooth, then pour or scrape the sachlav into two warmed 5-ounce coffee cups. Decorate with chopped pistachios and optional orange peel and/or cherries; serve hot with a spoon.


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