Halawet El Jibn- Satisfyingly Creamy And Delicate Dessert
Image Credit: Halawet el jibn/ Instagram- nawwarahk

No matter how many kinds of desserts you have relished, nothing compares to the gossamer and richly creamy Syrian dessert Halawet El Jibn. Just like its intricate name, this sweet strikes a delicate and hearty balance between Mozzarella cheese, cream and milk. For the curious ones, the name Halawet El Jibn means cheese sweet or sweetness of cheese and is made with utmost finesse by combining three parts flour, ashta and sugar syrup. The cooking involved making ashta or creamy cheese filling and the super light and soft milk and semolina dough. After a bit of assembly, there comes your way one of the most inexpensive and cherishable luxuries in the form of a dessert!

Sweet And Remarkable Legacy Of Syria

Syria, a country which is going through prolonged civil unrest, treasures the legacy of an unmatched sweet dish, Halawet El Jibn. The origin of this sweet dish is not clear, but some obscure sources point out its origin to be not more than 60 years old. The place of origin in Syria is claimed to be the city of Hama or Homs. The dish was transported to even Turkey and Germany by Syrian immigrants. Today it's popularly consumed in many regions of the Middle East. 

Traditionally made of semolina and cheese dough, filled with cream the delectable Arabic dessert is chewy and richly creamy. The sugar syrup poured over the Halawet includes orange blossom water, and garnishing comprises chopped pistachios and rose petals. The cheese typically used to make this dish is Akkawi cheese which is soaked for 24 hours in water. In case of unavailability, mozzarella cheese is used for achieving a similar kind of stretchiness and neutral flavour.

Halawet El Jibin

Cooking: 35 minutes

Servings: 5-6


For Ashta:

1. 400ml heavy cream

2. 350ml (whole milk) 

3. 30g all-purpose flour

4. 4 tbsp cornstarch

5. 2 tsp sugar

6. Pinch of salt

For Syrup

1. 200g sugar

2. 130 ml water

3. Squeeze of Lemon

4. 1 tsp orange blossom water

For Dough

1. 250ml whole milk

2. 50g sugar

3. 90g fine semolina

4. 250g low moisture Mozzarella cheese (make sure there is no added starch if you are buying this grated)

5. 1 tsp orange blossom water

Method :

1. For making the Ashta, add the flour, corn flour, and 150 ml milk to a bowl and mix all until no clumps remain.

2. In a cooking pot, add the heavy cream and sugar over medium to high heat, and add the slurry made in the bowl.

3. Whisk all of it together continuously for about 5-8 minutes until it reaches the texture of thick cream. Remove and pour into a bowl, then place it in the fridge to cool for a few hours.

4. For making the syrup, add the sugar, water and lemon juice to a pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Don't stir the pot as it may crystallise.

5. When it boils, turn the heat down to low and allow it to simmer for 15 minutes.

6. When the syrup is almost done, add the orange blossom water and cook for 1 minute further. Pour out in another container.

7. To make the semolina and cheese dough, place a pot over medium heat, and add the milk, and sugar.

8. Stir the two together, then add in the semolina and work into the milk until the mixture thickens

9. When the mixture becomes like a paste, add the shredded mozzarella cheese and the orange blossom water.

10. Fold the dough over and again until it gets a uniform texture. 

11. To assemble the Halawet Jibn, whip it up into a fluffy consistency and fill it into a piping bag.

12. Take a chopping board and pour 1-2 tbsp of the syrup on it and place the hot dough on it.

13. Fold the syrup into the dough until it has been fully combined, and then split the dough into 2 pieces.

14. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap across the chopping board, then pour 1 tbsp of syrup onto it.

15. Spread the syrup out then place the dough ball on top and spread it into a roughly rectangular shape with your hands

16. Add more syrup onto the dough, then place another plastic sheet on top of it

17. Roll the dough out into a sharp rectangle. Pipe out Ashta into a straight line on the dough, leaving a small gap along one side of the dough to fold the filling.

18. Cut the dough where the two pieces meet, then wrap the rolled dough in a thin plastic sheet.

19. Repeat with the rest of the dough sheet and other pieces.

20. Place in the fridge for 4-6 hours.

21. Take out the rolls from the fridge half an hour before serving, and remove the plastic wrap.

22. Cut the rolls into about 3cm wide equal-sized portions. Drizzle with sugar syrup.

The rose petals and the ground pistachios topped over the Halawet El Jibn makes it even more of a visual treat to behold. Take a bite of this tiny sweetmeat and let loose all your anxieties into its wondrous taste.