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What Are the Different Types of Lebanese Desserts?

Rose water is a common flavoring in Lebanese desserts.
Lebanese desserts often include rice.
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  • Written By: Emily Pate
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2014
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Different types of Lebanese desserts include pastries and baked goods, cakes and pies, and puddings, as well as syrupy fruit mixes. Simple preserved or dried fruit is also popular. Pastries and cookies include traditional dishes like Lebanese-style baklawa and Easter cakes featuring semolina called ma'amoul. Knafeh and mafroukeh are traditional cake and pie desserts, and various puddings use similar ingredients found throughout the cuisine like rose water and orange blossom. Figs may be preserved into a sweet, texture-rich jam or dried for a snack.

Lebanese desserts include various pastries and baked goods. Perhaps the most noted is baklawa, a rich, dense dessert made from layers of paper-thin phyllo dough and nuts soaked in honey. In Lebanon, baklawa contains layers of sugared nuts between the dough as well as a honey topping.

Ma'amoul, or Easter cakes, are actually cookies featuring semolina in the dough. The cookies are hollowed out slightly and filled with nuts and flavorings like orange blossom and rose water. Special traditionally-carved spoons are made just for these cookies, the raw, filled dough being flattened against and baked on the utensil.

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Lebanese desserts also include a variety of cakes and pies or custards. Knafeh, a dish originating in Palestine, is a traditional dessert in Lebanon. Shredded phyllo dough is mixed with butter, then layered with patties of ricotta cheese; a second layer of butter-rich dough tops the pie, along with pine nuts, pistachios, and a sugary syrup. Mafroukeh is a pan-cooked cake of semolina, sugar, and butter infused with sugar syrup, orange blossom, and rose water, similar to the Easter cookies. It's topped with a milk-based cream filling called kashta.

Various puddings and dessert fillings are mainstays for Lebanese desserts. Simple rice puddings flavored with rose water or orange blossom are popular. Sahlab is a simple but very well-known dessert and is little more than milk, cornstarch, and sugar infused with rose or orange blossom water and topped with pistachios and cinnamon.

Many Lebanese desserts simply take a fruit, nut, or other main ingredient, and soak it in a special syrup. Figs, dates, and even orange peel are commonly soaked in sugar overnight, then reduced to a thick, fruity syrup. Dishes like the stuffed date dessert murabba el balah featured a blanched almond placed inside the fruit.

Simple preserved or dried fruit also play a large role in Lebanese desserts. Fig jam is common, made with sesame seeds, anise seed, and nuts for texture and flavor. Dried figs and dates have an extremely sweet taste and can be served as a dessert on their own.

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