• Baklava stack at Sooo Sweet. (Ainsley's Market Menu)
The sweet tooths of Brisbane are sweet on, well, Sooo Sweet, a speciality dessert cafe that celebrates its owners’ Lebanese heritage
By
Alana Schetzer

23 Oct 2019 - 11:50 AM  UPDATED 29 Oct 2019 - 12:35 PM

Nestled just 30 minutes south of Brisbane's CBD in the City of Logan is Sooo Sweet, a cafe dedicated to the art of Lebanese desserts. It’s also seemingly dedicated to making decisions difficult, given its expansive menu that focuses on sticky, nutty, and delicate treats.

A few examples to choose from are sanioura, a flaky shortbread packed with pine nuts and sugar; maamoul, a bite-sized delight that’s made from semolina, sugar and pistachio; and the ever-popular baklava, soaked in plenty of sweet syrup.

It's hard to go past a classic baklava.

It’s a family business that reflects the Breis family’s heritage and their love of these sweet delights.

“My mum...used to make the biscuits at home and she thought that there was a bit of a demand for the sweets,” says Noureldin Breis. “We chose the City of Logan (in Brisbane’s south) because our people, the Lebanese, the Afghani...are coming in to settle in the area and as Logan develops, we grow with Logan and we're all happy.”

The popularity of the business has grown and in September Sooo Sweet expanded to a second location at Westfield Garden City in Upper Mount Gravatt, QLD. In the Logan store alone, the business goes through over 100kg of pastry per week.

“You would have get-togethers at the end of the fast and you would bring boxes and kilos of sweets for the guests,”

These treats have a special connection to Muslims religious events, including Ramadan and Eid, Breis explains.

“You would have get-togethers at the end of the fast and you would bring boxes and kilos of sweets for the guests,” he says. “We love our sweets; we have many Australian customers coming in [and] they love various different flavours other than the sweet donuts.

The store attracts a whole range of customers willing to try something new.

“We have a lot of Japanese, Korean [and] Asian customers come in because they like something exotic as well. It's bringing people together.”

In Lebanese cultures, these pastry or cream-based sweets are traditionally served with coffee after a meal, and each have a unique history that tells a of the story of the region. Baklava, for example, was supposedly named for the wife of a Turkish Sultan who was asked to prepare a tasty dessert. However, multiple ethnic groups claim the baklava as their own, so the origin story is up for debate.

Nour believes the 'most classic' dessert is the mafroukeh.

Another treat that Sooo Sweet makes is Kanafeh - a dark orange-coloured pastry - that comes from the Arabic verb ‘ka-na-fa’, which means ‘mercy’. It was originally created as a dip during the Umayyad Caliphate era (661-1031) to help its founder, Muawiya, get through his fast for Ramadan. Over the years, the dish evolved from dip, to nut-packed dessert and then lastly, via a stint in Syria, the nuts were swapped for cheese, which is how it’s made today.

“We have a lot of Japanese, Korean [and] Asian customers come in because they like something exotic as well. It's bringing people together.”

Bries says that the most classic sweet of them all is the Mafroukeh. “The base is semolina [and has a] earthy, creamy, nutty texture. It's topped with clotted cream, almonds, pistachio, and a rose petal,” he explains.

“The next one, it's the Halawet el-Jibn (a sweet cheese roll), it's a very dense material. You can't cut it with a fork - you need to pick it up like a donut and just bite into it like that.”

The Halawet el-Jibn is made with a semolina and cheese dough, and filled with cream.

Australia is home to a large Lebanese-born population of approximately 78,600, with the overwhelming majority concentrated in Sydney. Although Brisbane’s Lebanese population is quite small (it shares in the four per cent of Lebanese who don’t live in Sydney or Melbourne), Sooo Sweet has found itself a popular destination, especially for those trying Lebanese sweets for the first time.

 

Ainsley Harriott traverses Sooo Sweet in Logan during episode 3 of the brand-new season of Ainsley's Australian Market Menu. Catch it at 7:30pm Thursday 17 October on SBS, catch up on SBS Food at 7:30pm Sundays, or stream on SBS On Demand (below). Visit the Market Menu website for recipes, the episode guide and more.

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