• Chocolate nut halva cake: another great use of tahini. (John Laurie)Source: John Laurie
The baklava bonanza is always sensational and if you want more sweet offerings of the Lebanese variety, you've come to the right place.
12 Jun 2020 - 12:16 PM  UPDATED 17 Jun 2020 - 9:49 AM

1. Trusty pancake

These lightly yeasted and filled pancakes are best assembled as each one is cooked. Traditionally filled with either a sweet cream or walnut filling, you could use both, if you like, as in this katayef recipe.

These traditional Lebanese pancakes can be served with a walnut or cream filling, or you can be creative and combine the two.

2. Sweet cheeses

Popular throughout the Levant, this syrup-soaked cheese dessert is commonly encased with kataifi pastry, but this recipe from Sydney's modern Lebanese restaurant Embers Mezze Bar uses a crushed Corn Flakes and semolina mixture instead. The golden crust, topped with rose petals and pistachios, barely contains the molten cheese centre. get your knafeh right here.

3. Open sesame

Derived from the Arabic word for “sweet”, the term halva or similar is used in countries around the world to refer to countless varieties of nut- or flour-based confectionery. This sesame-based version, popular throughout the Middle East, is from Lebanon and is swirled with chocolate, slivered almonds and pistachios. Let's make chocolate halva cake!

4. There's something in these waters

This semolina and yoghurt slice, known as nammoura, is one of the simplest desserts you can make for a dinner party. Its fragrance is derived from an aromatic sugar syrup (atter), made with rosewater and orange blossom water. This recipe also uses mahlab, a powerful spice with notes of bitter almond and cherry to add an extra bit of oomph.

5. French toast

Doused in caramel syrup and smothered in thick custard, this simple yet luxurious bread dessert is quick to prepare and requires minimal cooking. It's all about the chilling time in this Lebanese cream slice (ayesh el saraya).


6. The good kind of drenched

These crisp golden pastries filled with ashta cream – a clever Lebanese unsweetened faux clotted cream – and then drenched with a fragrant syrup. Pistachios and rose petals make the perfect touch.

Sweet pastry fingers with ashta cream (znoud el sett)

7. Embrace your nuttiness 

This rich Lebanese mafroukeh is traditionally made using clotted cream, while some cooks use whipped ricotta sweetened with sugar and flavoured with orange blossom water. This dessert isn’t particularly hard to make (don’t be put off by the long roasting time for the semolina) but the syrup and semolina must be completely cool when combined. 

8. Go fig-ure

This yoghurt mousse gets the star anise treatment and is served with a rich fig compote. Create all the elements ahead of time and assemble any night of the week for a comforting glass of dessert genius!

9. Buttered up

Think shortbread! These simple ghrabeyh biscuits, subtly scented with orange blossom water, are incredibly moreish. They are just as good when flavoured with vanilla or rosewater, too.

Lebanese at home
12 times we went nuts for baklava
From ice-cream sambos and coin-sized cookies to traditional Turkish treats, here are the best baklava bakes.
It’s time to get your orange blossom on
This sweet, citrusy nectar might smell like your grandma’s perfume, but don’t be put off by fragrant associations. Orange blossom water is the essence of many Middle Eastern dishes, particularly desserts, so grab yourself a bottle and blossom away!
Baklava with custard filling

This version of the classic Lebanese pastry combines my two loves - custard and baklava, all wrapped up in filo and finished with fennel-spiced walnuts.

Lamb shawarma with tahini and lemon

For my shawarma, I use lamb fillet marinated in red wine and vinegar, which pack a flavour punch, and I like to make my own soft and fluffy bread to wrap it all up in.