15 Popular Lebanese Desserts – Chef’s Pencil

Middle Easterners know their desserts well. All Good. Lebanese desserts are usually a combination of concentrated syrup and fried dough. While most don’t use chocolate, there are many chocolate versions that are popular today.

So now let’s take a look at some of the most popular desserts from the Middle East, especially Lebanese, amazing sweets often found on special occasions and holidays. Warning: These are all very good for the tongue, but bad for the heart!

1. Lebanese Baklava

Starting strong with Lebanese baklava, an intricate delicacy that is definitely a fan favorite. It is delicate layered filo dough soaked in a simple syrup flavored with rose water, and generously garnished with nuts.

Baklava is traditionally cut into different shapes and sizes to distinguish the different flavors and nuts in it.

Baklava is free flowing on big festive occasions like weddings, graduations and even starting a new job. These candies should not be eaten every day as they are very high in sugar and fat!

Editor’s Note: Baklava is a popular dessert across the region, from Greece to Turkey to Egypt (known locally as sweet goulash). Lebanese baklava is usually lighter on the syrup than other varieties, allowing people to take a few more bites.

2. Znoud El Sett

Sticking to the theme of phyllo dough and rose water, znoud el sett translates directly to the “woman’s upper arm”. They consist of: ashta cream wrapped in phyllo dough and then baked, soaked in simple rose water syrup, and enjoyed after a nice meal on a Sunday afternoon. It’s definitely a one-time treat.

3. Maamoul

maamoul

maamoul are traditionally made around Easter and enjoyed among friends and family. They are biscuits made from semolina and clarified butter, filled with dates or a walnut filling. Like many of the other Lebanese desserts, they are high in calories and fat.

4. Mshabbak

mshabbak is definitely a personal favorite of mine! They are made of soft dough that is spiraled into hot oil. After frying, they are soaked in rose water syrup creating a sweet dessert with a crunchy outside and a soft inside. This dessert is usually sold on days when saints are celebrated in front of churches. Traditionally, half is colored red and the other half is solid.

5. Kanafeh (Knafeh)

Kanafeh

knafeh is usually prepared in large bowls with a layer of Akkawi cheese on the bottom and covered with semolina dough or filo dough. It is then infused with the syrup. It is served on bread (jaw) and soaked in even more syrup.

It is sometimes eaten for breakfast, but also eaten as a dessert after lunch. It has a great combination of textures from the cheese, the semolina dough and jaw as well as a great flavor profile from the combination of the sweet syrup and salty cheese.

6. Qatayef

qatayef

This dessert is traditionally served around the Ramadan period and Eid el Berbara. This dessert is a pancake dough cooked on one side, filled with ashta cream (see 13) or a walnut filling, and dense like a dumpling. It’s dipped in, you guessed it, syrup. A great way to celebrate these occasions.

7. Riz bi Haleeb (Lebanese Rice Pudding)

This Lebanese version of rice pudding is a classic. The rice is cooked in sweet milk, flavored with rose water and orange blossom for a nice fresh taste. It can be eaten for breakfast as well as dessert, depending on your mood.

Riz bi Haleeb is definitely a favorite among kids and is usually topped with a variety of nuts, raisins and coconut flakes.

8. Meghli

Meghlic consists of ground rice, cooked and seasoned with coriander, cinnamon and sugar. This dessert is usually served with shaved coconut flakes and various nuts such as pistachios and pine nuts. It’s traditional to make meghlic to celebrate the birth of a child. The whole family shares it to wish the little newborn health and success.

9. Sfouf

Both sfouf and namoura (below) have a similar base, and are baking cakes that are baked and cut into diamonds, garnished with a halved almond and sesame seeds. sfouf is known for its unique color, which is obtained by adding turmeric.

10. Names

Unlike sfouf, which uses regular flour, Namoura uses semolina soaked in hot hangover. This delicious, sticky, sweet cake is definitely a Lebanese favorite.

11. Jazarieh

jazarieh
Credit: @albabasweets on Instagram

Although the word jazarieh comes from the word jazar meaning carrot in english, this dish has nothing to do with carrots. jazarieh is candied pumpkin slices cooked in a sweet sugar syrup. This technique is used in many Lebanese desserts that use orange peels, rose petals and other fruits. When served, you will find sprinkling of nuts next to your jazarieh.

12. Ghoyraybeh

Ghoyraybeh

This delicious, crumbly cookie is sure to keep you coming back for more. Ghoraybeh is an Egyptian sweet that is also very popular in Lebanon and Palestine and is definitely worth mentioning.

It’s a buttery shortbread that crumbles and melts in your mouth in seconds. Circular, usually garnished with a single pistachio nut.

13. Ashta

Ashta is a sweet cream used as a base for many traditional Lebanese desserts. It can be enjoyed on its own as a dessert, topped with nuts, hangover, fruit, and even jam.

14. Mafroukeh

mafroukeh is a dessert made from semolina dough, similar to kanafeh, where it is spread on a tray, boiled and topped with sugar syrup flavored with orange blossom and rose water. It is then finished with ashta cream and garnished with an assortment of nuts.

15. Halawet el Jibn

Halawet el Jibn

This texture experience will take you on an amazing ride! curdled ashta cream wrapped in a sweet, chewy and delicate cheese wrap…you’ll love every last bite. It is usually topped with hangover (sugar syrup), and topped with rose petal jam and ground pistachios.

So whether you’re in Lebanon for a visit, or just want to get a taste of Lebanese culture, these desserts are definitely worth a try.

The returning ingredients of hangover sugar syrup, phyllo dough, and semolina dough might make you think they all taste the same, but trust me, each is different in its own unique way. If you’re craving culture in a bite, these candies are for you. sahtein!


Related: 30 Best Lebanese Foods

Romy Khneisser

Located in Dhour Chouir, Lebanon, Romy is a communications specialist and content creator. She has a BA in Communication arts with a psychology minor from the Lebanese-American University and her passion is writing about Lebanese culture. Through her writing, she seeks to change the world’s perception of Lebanon and showcase her beautiful country and culture.

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