Halawet el Jibn - Lebanese Semolina Cheese Dessert

      This recipe has been on my bucket list for YEARS. But first, let me say this post is for this month's Eat the World recipe challenge, this time we are going to Lebanon. As soon as I saw the theme I knew I had to join. And then once I started researching I remembered this recipe and knew it was time to try it. I've eaten a lot of Lebanese food through the years, and you should too. 

     I recommend starting with this Chicken and Bulgar pilaf, it's not too difficult and delivers an amazing payoff. Adas bil Hamod is also amazing, it's a tangy vegan soup that is inexpensive and packs quite a punch. A couple great desserts are Lebanese-style Fruit Cocktail, a mixture of fresh fruit and fruit purees along with a decadent Lebanese-style cream and one of my other favorite food, Layali Lubnan

     Are you familiar with the world's best dessert, aka, knafeh? It tastes so similar to this treat, but with a few textural differences. This one is like knafeh and mochi had a baby. A delicious, sweet, decadent, creamy, baby. It's also slightly finicky to make. But that is good news for you, I made a few mistakes and you can learn from them!

Check out all the wonderful Lebanese dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld. Find out how to join Eat the World here and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us! 

1) Use fine-grain semolina or it won't stick together properly

2) Make sure your cheese is all shredded and ready to go before you boil the water, there is a short window where it needs to be added to come together properly. 

3) Pay attention to the order of things. I might have gotten them mixed up and added the semolina at the start the first time around and cooked it like that. It doesn't work. 

4) Make sure and roll the semolina thin or it's really chewy

5) Orange blossom water and rose water and the traditional flavorings of this, and most, middle eastern desserts. However, rosewater is one of the few flavors I don't care for so I replace it with elderflower in addition to the orange blossom water to keep the perfumed floral flavors and avoid the rosewater that tastes like soap to me. 

Recipe adapted from Cleobuttera

Semolina Dough
1 1/2 c. water
3/4 c. Sugar
1 c. semolina
240 g. sweet cheese, shredded 
1 tsp. orange blossom water

Ater Syrup
1 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. orange blossom water
1 tsp. elderflower cordial OR Rosewater (optional)

Ashta Cream
1 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. milk
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 c. sugar
8 oz. mascarpone cheese

Chopped pistachios
Sliced strawberries OR Rose petal jam

Asta Cream
In a saucepan combine the sugar, flour, and cornstarch for the ashta cream. Whisk to combine and then Stir in the cream and milk. Simmer, gently, until the cream is thick. Cook for 1 minute more and then remove from the heat. Place in a plastic bag, squeeze all of the air out of the bag and place in the fridge. Once the cream is chilled remove from the bag and beat until smooth. Add the mascarpone cheese and beat again until smooth. Return to the fridge until ready to use. 

Ater Syrup
Combine the water, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook gently for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and add the orange blossom water and the elderflower syrup. Place in a jar or container and place in the fridge, you want it very cool. 

Semolina Dough
Combine the water and the sugar and bring to a boil. Add the semolina and whisk. Cook just until slightly thickened but still liquidy. Immediately add the shredded cheese and leave on the heat. Cook, stirring, until thick and one homogenous blob. Remove from the heat and all to stand until just cool enough to handle. 

Place the still-warm semolina and cheese dough on top of a long strip of plastic wrap. Add a second sheet of plastic wrap on top and use a rolling pin to roll it out very thin. Shape it into a rectangle. 

Place the ashta cream into a pastry bag and cut the tip-off. Pipe a long line of ashta cream down the length of the semolina dough. Roll the dough around the cream and slice it lengthwise to remove it from the rectangle. Repeat the process creating longs. Slice them into 1 - 1.5 inch slices. 

Arrange the slices on a plate and top them with the rose petal jam or strawberry slices and chopped pistachios. Drizzle with the ater syrup and eat them all yourself serve right away. 


  1. This certainly sounds wonderful. I can see why it had been on your bucket list.

  2. Wow! I can't wait to give this a try. Thanks for sharing.

  3. WoW! These look wonderful and delicious. To me this sounds irresistible and I am making this soon.


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