Chefs' Recipes

Paul Farag’s halawet el jibn and candied pine nuts

Mozarella in a dessert may make you baulk, but we guarantee that this sticky Syrian sweet will leave you reaching for more.

Photo: Ben Dearnley

Ben Dearnley
4 - 6

“This is a popular dessert in the Levant using semolina – the Middle East loves wheat,” says Farag. “You can substitute very fine white polenta for semolina. This dish is best eaten the day of making, and with anything else you want such as dried fruit and nuts.”


Candied pine nuts


1.For halawet el jibn, place semolina and sugar in a large saucepan and whisk in 700ml cold water. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring continuously, until heated through and smooth (10 minutes). Stir in cheese until combined (5 minutes); remove from heat and stir in orange blossom.
2.Spread mixture into a 17.5cm x 27cm greased rectangular slice pan and smooth top; refrigerate until cool and set (45 minutes). Spoon over crème fraîche and return to fridge until ready to serve.
3.For candied pine nuts, grease and line a large oven tray with baking paper. Place 50ml water in a deep-sided saucepan with sugar, pine nuts and glucose. Heat over high heat until temperature reaches 121˚C on a digital thermometer. Using a large, long-handled metal spoon, stir in bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt until combined. Pour mixture over prepared tray and spread evenly. Stand on a wire rack until cooled; coarsely crush when ready to serve.
4.Remove halawet el jibn from fridge and scatter with candied pine nuts. Serve immediately.

Akawi is a soft unripened Middle Eastern brine cheese with a smooth texture and mild, salty flavour. It is available from select Middle Eastern grocers. Rinse and drain before using.


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