Halawet Al-Joubn also referred to as Halawet el-Jibn is a delicious Arabic dessert. The outer layer is made from a soft, chewy cheese dough lightly sweetened with sugar and rose water and filled with sweet cream. It is then crowned with pistachios and a drizzle of orange blossom or rose syrup finishes it off.
As with most beloved dishes its origins are a bit uncertain. It is commonly believed to date back to the 1950’s from the Syrian city of Hama. Although Homs is the city most famous for the desert, it can also be found in several Middle Eastern countries including Lebanon and Turkey.
A year round favourite, it is a must during the fast of Ramadan. Traditionally Middle Eastern desserts are left to the professional bakeries to make. Each bakery has their own special well-guarded recipes. Lucky for us at Food For Thought our Ladies have their own recipe for Halawet Al-Joubn and spoil us often with these bite size pieces that are truly irresistible.
225g fine semolina (feiner Greiß)
250g shredded mozzarella
4 Tbsp rose water
200g mascarpone or Ashta (creamed cheese)
Pistachios for decoration
Rose or orange blossom syrup
Place water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Slowly add the semolina so as to avoid clumping. Stirring steadily until mixture becomes thick.
Add the rose water.
Add the mozzarella bit by bit. Continue to stir until the cheese is completely melted.
Let the mixture rest for five minutes, then spread the dough on a plate/dish flattening it evenly out into a rectangle.
Place the mascarpone or Ashta on the dough evenly in a line near the edge of the dough. Next roll the dough over the cheese and continue rolling it up into a cigar shape.
Place the roll in the refrigerator to cool.
Take out the rolled dough and cut into bite size slices.
Decorate with pistachios and drizzle with syrup.
We hope you enjoy this recipe and that if you haven’t already, you’ll come and try it and the other wonderful Syrian dishes at a Food for Thought dinner.
Traditionally Akkawi cheese is used for this dessert but Mozzarella works just as well and doesn’t require hours of soaking to remove the salty brine. I've also heard that Akkawi outside of the Middle East just isn’t the same.
You can also try it with less or more sugar, depending on your preference.
Photographs by Ewa Podgórska