When people ask us why we love Lebanon so much, or why we stay in Lebanon despite all its imperfections, we have various answers: the people, the traditions, the lifestyle, the history, etc, and our cuisine is one of them.
And when it comes to our desserts, we don’t seem to want to stop bragging. Even if nowadays our cuisine is found in most countries of the world, there is something special about our desserts when made locally with local products and by local chefs, (that includes our moms).
Whatever your preferences, we got to admit that the Lebanese desserts are so tempting that we can’t resist them, diet or no diet. We bet that by the time you reach the end of our selection of the most delicious ones, you’ll be craving for more than one of them.
Namoura, or Lebanese Coconut Semolina Cake, is a traditional dessert of rich flavor and texture, and that is regularly made at home. It’s chewy soft, with a golden crispy crust, and deliciously flavored with blossom water (or alternatively with fresh orange juice), and drenched in Lebanese syrup.
A traditional treat that’s mostly a specialty of the north of Lebanon, especially Tripoli and the coastal town of Qalamoun, Jazarieh consists of grated pumpkin shreds with a variety of nuts and soaked in Lebanese syrup.
While its name connotates with Jazar (carrots), the recipe doesn’t include carrots. The name was given to this sweet-sweet dessert because of its orangy color.
Layali Lubnan is also called Ashtaliyeh for it’s mainly made of the Lebanese Ashta cream in two versions: the unsweetened semolina and milk dense mixture then topped with Ashta cream and a generous layer of pistachio nuts.
Probably the most succulent dessert of them all, this dessert is sweetened only upon serving, with honey or syrup, which leaves the degree of sweetness upon lucky you.
With almost a few rare exceptions (if any), all Lebanese grow up with the Sfouf regularly at home and in our lunch boxes. You could find it at almost every Lebanese kid’s birthday party, probably because it’s quick and easy to make and it’s kind of softly dry.
The yellow color of the Sfouf comes from the Tumeric spice. Its particular texture is due to the incorporated tahini; all of which is beautifully flavored with anise and blossom water, and optionally topped with sesame seeds (or almonds).
Daoukiyeh was created in the ’80s by Al-Daouk sweets pastry shop in Lebanon and was thus given the name. It is very distinguished in taste and in style. It consists of Ashta and pistachio paste, and a generous layer of a variety of nuts.
If you’re Lebanese or you live in Lebanon, you know the drill. No Eid without Maamoul. No Christmas and no Easter without Maamoul, and even at traditional weddings you’ll find the Maamoul on the buffet.
Bottom line: Maamoul is THE dessert of Lebanese celebrations!
Atayef is a kind of light pancakes (not same recipe!) wrapped around Ashta cream and drizzled with syrup or honey at consumption. They are light and soft to the palate, refreshing, and with a hint of sweetness.
The Atayef are usually served around specific holidays in Lebanon, especially during Ramadan and Saint Berbara Day.
There is another version of this dessert as well! The deep-fried Atayef stuffed with a mixture of nuts and soaked in syrup. (Very tasty, very sweet, and… watch the calories!)
And how can we ever resist the Halewet el-Jebn! Traditionally, this dessert used to be presented in thin layers of soft cheese-dough that looked like shredded cotton fabric. The clotted cream or Ashta would be dropped on the top, or on the side with the syrup.
Another favorite dessert of the Lebanese, the Osmalieh is as crunchy as baked vermicelli-like pastry dough could be. The Ashta is layered in between. The recipe also contains syrup. Sweet, crunchy and creamy!
A more modern version saw to give it a twist that makes it easier to eat: