Middle Eastern

TikTok’s Crinkle Dessert Is the Easiest Way to Use Phyllo Dough

It's based off muakacha, a dessert popular throughout the Arabic-speaking world.

March 24, 2022
Photo by Getty Images/The Washington Post

The latest dessert to make the rounds on TikTok stands out from the site’s usual, sometimes questionable fare in that it both looks and tastes good and requires no bright colors or canned goods. The “crinkle,” as it’s become known, uses phyllo dough and custard to create a super simple treat with an impeccably crispy top and a mystifyingly tender center. As with so many viral recipes, it serves as something of a blank slate, allowing users to riff on it and create their own versions.

The dessert first became popularized by user RamenaSaidWow, who alludes in multiple videos to having a business that sold these, and who explains that this is not her personal invention. Rather, it’s a traditional Middle Eastern dessert (Lebanese or Chaldean, she guesses), called muakacha; she just perfected her own version.

Her version is fairly easy: You take a box of phyllo dough and “crinkle” or accordion-fold it, two sheets at a time, into a large pan—she uses disposable aluminum trays because that’s what was easiest in her bakery—then bake it for 10 minutes at 350°F. After the first bit, you pour two sticks of melted butter over top, bake for 10 more minutes, then cover it with a custard of 1 cup each of milk and sugar plus a couple eggs and a tablespoon of vanilla. Then you put it back in to bake for 30 to 40 more minutes. When you pull it out at the end, you douse it with a thick (2:1) simple syrup. By this point, it’s fallen into the hands of other TikTok creatives, who have added classic Middle Eastern toppings like pistachios, fun dessert stuff like Nutella and strawberries, and even cheese for a savory version.

Each of the steps times out in a way that makes this easy to prepare as you go—turn on the oven, and by the time it’s ready, you’ve done the folding; the butter melts during the first bake, you make the custard during the second, and then the syrup during the third. It all fits together impressively well.

While many phyllo dough recipes call for brushing butter on, layer by layer, and require careful work to prevent tearing the fragile sheets, the best thing about this one is tossing that caution out the window. The recipe is wonderfully forgiving and works perfectly. Even with slightly dried-out phyllo dough and the clumsy help of a four-year-old, the dessert maintains its frilly, flaky layers. If you can’t fold it properly, she even says in her instructions, “you can just crumple it up.”

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“How about an actual recipe and picture of the finished product? ”
— judy

Either way, the custard-soaked bottom gels into a wrinkled, soft custard (muakacha, fittingly, means "wrinkled" in Arabic), while the top crisps up beautifully. On TikTok, people roll their crumpled phyllo into swirls or other designs, adding extra flourishes, or bake them into cake pans—just be sure to leave plenty of room: In the original videos, the phyllo is almost laying down, it has so much extra space. In a cake pan, there is a little less room, causing the center to rise up and out—easily pushed down at the end, but something to watch out for.

Have you tried making the crinkle yet? Let us know how it went in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • tbyrd
  • Jillicena
  • judy
  • fnshcharber
  • Smaug
Naomi Tomky

Written by: Naomi Tomky

The world's most enthusiastic eater of everything


tbyrd March 25, 2022
Here is the original video posted on Tik Toc. The written recipe is posted in the comments. Some people have said they sprinkle chopped pistachios on top of the finished dessert. I believe I would prefer to use pecans because I just love pecans myself but of course you can use any type of nuts you prefer or you can just omit the nuts altogether if you want to.
Jillicena March 25, 2022
Would really like a recipe food52…
judy March 25, 2022
How about an actual recipe and picture of the finished product?
fnshcharber March 24, 2022
Oh, how I wish people would stop referring to TikTok. These hacks existed before you were even born.
Smaug March 25, 2022
Also, "methods" existed long before "hacks".
Tim M. March 25, 2022
The article mentions that the technique pre-dates the TikToker who popularized it, and doesn't use the word hack at all, so I'm not sure what you're all complaining about? 🤨
Smaug March 25, 2022
I would guess that fnshcharber is complaining about the tendency to paint old knowledge as an invention of modern internet "creators" . I am pointing out the use of an annoying neologism which tends to do the same thing.