middle eastern sweets


 This sweet, coconut filled dessert is perfect after any dinner especially with coffee. This is a traditional recipe served during Ramadan. This taste amazing with qashta served on top. If your in an area that does not have qashta try Nestles heavy cream in your baking isle, it works just as well and taste better to me.

3 cups shredded coconut
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup semolina
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla

1. Grease 24 cm, 9 inch pan.

2. In a large mixing bowl beat sugar and eggs until light and fluffy, add butter, milk, vanilla stir with dry ingredients.

3. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake at preheated oven 350 F, for 30 minutes or until it golden brown.

Yields: 8 servings


Want to try a not so typical fudge? Then why not make Iranian date fudge. This is a no bake, no mess, sweet wonder.

3 cups dates, pitted
1 cup walnuts, chopped

1 cup unsalted butter
1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 cup ground unsalted pistachio nuts or shredded coconut

1. In a 9-inch skillet on medium heat toast walnuts in skillet for five minutes. Set aside to cool. Place a few walnut pieces inside each date. Arrange dates, packed next to each other in flat 9 inch serving dish.

2. In a saute pan, sauté flour in butter over high heat, stirring constantly for about 15 to 20 minutes, toasting until it is golden caramel color. Spread hot dough over dates; pack and smooth it with back of a spoon.

3. Combine cinnamon, sugar, and cardamom and sprinkle evenly over fudge. Sprinkle with ground pistachios or shredded coconut all over. Cool. Cut in small square pieces.

Yields: 12 servings

Adapted from The Middle Eastern Cookbook

Cheese Kunafa

Kunafa is traditionally eaten during Ramadan. A good cheese Kunafa is about as hard to find as a needle in a haystack but this recipe is it; you will never bother with anymore. An easy trick to browning your Kunafa is to sit the cake pan on the oven eye for a few seconds to lightly brown after it is taken from the oven. In addition, it is a good idea to shred some of that pastry with your hands unless you want huge strings that are not easy to work with. You can even cut it into small pieces if you have the time.

For the syrup:
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon orange blossom water or rose water

1. On low heat, add sugar, water, lemon juice and flavored water. Stir until thick. Allow to cool in refrigerator.

Cheese filling:
1 pound mozzarella
1/2 pound ricotta
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons orange blossom water or rose water

1. In a food processor add mozzarella, ricotta, sugar and flavored water, mix well. Set aside.

1 pound of defrosted Kataifi (knafi)
2 sticks of unsalted butter, melted
Pistachios to garnish

1. Place kataifi in a large bowl with butter, mix and untangle strings with hands. In a 10-11 inch pie pan, place half of pastry in the bottom. Add cheese filling, pressing down with hand, add remaining of pastry strings. Bake in a 325 F over for 45 minutes.


2. After pastry has baked, place the pan on the stove eye for a few seconds to make top brown and not pale. With a butter knife, go around kunafa, place plate on top and flip. Decorate with nuts. I grind mine in a processor. You can get creative now. I add the sugar syrup before and after. However, I sit most of it on the table and let people decide how much they want.

Yields: 8 servings

Adapted from Arabsque