For something new and exciting to finish out your meal, try these Middle Eastern desserts!
Bored of brownies? Tired of tiramisu? Jaded by jam tarts?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, there’s a good chance you’re suffering from dessert fatigue.
Perhaps it’s time you got out of your culinary rut and took your taste buds on a trip.
Where? To the Middle East, a region of exotic flavors, pungent spices, and some extremely delicious desserts.
If you like the sound of sweet, flaky pastries, spiced cookies and rich creamy puddings (and who doesn’t?!), read on.
You’re about to venture into new and tasty territory with our list of 20 of the most irresistible Middle Eastern treats.
You can’t mention Middle Eastern desserts without talking about halva.
This classic confection, a fudge-like sesame cake, is a popular snack in the region.
Anyone on a plant-based diet will love this three-ingredient vegan version, which doesn’t just ditch the dairy, it’s also sugar-free.
The recipe swaps out refined sugars for healthier maple syrup.
Another sweet staple, kanafeh, is a light, flaky pastry stuffed with syrup and cheese.
Yes, you read that right. Cheesy pastry may not be your idea of dessert, but trust me, it works.
There are a few different stages of preparation but Kanafeh is surprisingly easy to make.
Crunchy pastry, gooey cheese, sweet syrup, and a dollop of cream on top – to try kanafeh is to love it.
Similar to baklava, kataifi is another sweet, flaky pastry enjoyed in Greece, Turkey, and throughout the Middle East.
The dough is mixed with nuts, spices, and honey syrup to create deliciously fragrant dessert dumplings.
If anyone ever tells you that pancakes are just a breakfast food, seriously reconsider that person’s role in your life.
Pancakes are great at any time, and when the mood hits, you can’t go wrong with atayef.
Originating from Lebanon, these are no ordinary pancakes.
They’re little parcels of heaven, stuffed with creamy ricotta and dusted with crushed pistachios.
From pancakes to pudding, sahlab is the ultimate Middle Eastern comfort food.
A creamy snack that’s served in a tall glass, like a milkshake or a sundae, sahlab is basically sweetened milk flavored with cinnamon and vanilla, and topped with nuts, coconut, and/or raisins.
Almost every culture has its own version of butter cookies.
In the Middle East, these melt-in-your-mouth treats are known as ghraybeh.
This three-ingredient recipe is ridiculously easy to throw together – just mix up the dough, chill it, shape, and bake.
Easy, effortless, and, best of all, you’ll have a batch of warm, freshly-baked cookies.
More than 90 percent of the world’s dates are grown in the Middle East, so it’s no surprise they’re heavily featured in the region’s desserts.
Maamoul is what happens when you take dates, break them down to a paste, and then stuff them into cookies.
And yes, they are as delicious as they sound.
Traditionally served on feast days, these Eid cookies really showcase the bright, vibrant flavours of the Middle East.
Pistachios, honey, sesame seeds, and cinnamon elevate plain butter cookies into a very unique (and tasty!) sweet treat.
Sweet fritters are basically pure joy in dessert form.
And they’re even better Middle-eastern style, flavoured with saffron and cardamom, and drizzled with decadent sugar syrup.
Egypt gave us the pyramids, hieroglyphics, and a window into one of the most fascinating early civilizations.
It also gave us basbousa – an ultra-moist almond and coconut semolina cake, smothered with a sweet sauce and dusted with toasted coconut shavings.
11. Turkish Delight
Ask most people to name a Middle Eastern dessert and they’ll probably say Turkish delight.
This well-known favorite is easier to make than you think and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
The pretty pink candy is ideal for potlucks, birthday parties, and basically any time you want to show off.
12. Balah El Sham
Bite into these freakishly good fritters, and you’ll get a hit of crunchy, fried dough followed by creamy, sweet vanilla filling.
They’re basically the Middle Eastern version of churros and are best enjoyed with a good dollop of warm, syrupy sauce.
13. Rice Pudding
Forget classic rice pudding, the kind you were fed as a child and most likely loathed.
This easy Middle Eastern version reimagines the dish, adding vanilla, cinnamon, and cloves to give it a spiced makeover.
14. Stuffed Dates
Sometimes you want to spend hours layering an elaborate cake.
And sometimes you just want to keep it simple (but still scrumptious).
For those times, turn to this four-ingredient recipe.
Dates are stuffed with walnuts, cardamom, and coconut to create a simply irresistible snack that’s both healthy and satisfying.
If you’re thinking this list doesn’t have enough ice cream, you’re in luck.
Bastani is a unique-tasting icy treat, flavored with saffron and rosewater.
Cream and egg yolks are also added making this richer, creamier, and a lot more filling than your average cone.
16. Umm Ali
Puff pastry, almond, coconut, and raisins come together in this exotic recipe to create umm ali – a bread pudding-type dessert from Egypt.
Served warm, it’s great for feeding a crowd or just enjoying a bit of Middle Eastern warmth on a cold night.
If you’re craving cookies but don’t want to derail your diet, look no further than this recipe.
These gluten-free and sugar-free pistachio cookies offer Middle Eastern flavors without the carb content.
Sweetened with sugar and made from almond flour, they’re perfect for health-conscious foodies.
18. Baklava Cookies
It takes a real culinary genius to combine two amazing desserts into one delicious dish.
Thankfully, that genius walks among us and baklava cookies are his/her gift to the world.
If you thought it couldn’t get any better you’re wrong.
These bite-size baklavas are also gluten-free, sugar-free, and low-carb/keto.
Stay with me here. Yes, you can make chickpeas into delicious dessert food.
These inventive cookies use chickpea flour for the dough, flavored with rosewater and pistachios.
The result is a beautifully moist, sweet snack that is high in protein and big on flavor.
Chocolate and cardamon are an amazing flavor combo.
In this recipe, they team up to produce a dense, richly flavored tahini-based fudge perfect for chocoholics and dessert fans of all ages.
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