In this week's cookbook review, we are back with the latest culinary treat from Salma Hage, one of the Middle East’s most-loved home cooks. – an authentic, indulgent collection of dessert recipes for all tastes and occasions.
Whether you start your day with something sweet, finish it with something sweet, or make sure sweets are within reach all day long, you’ll find serious inspiration in the pages of Middle Eastern Sweets Cookbook.
The Middle East’s wide range of cultures, ingredients, and influences informs the array of dishes she includes – spiced cookies, cream-filled pancakes, aromatic pastries, and delicious cakes – with recipes that are easy to follow and celebrate simple-to-source spices and taste combinations. With natural sweeteners such as dates and honey often used in place of refined sugar, and alternate protein sources including nuts and yogurt, and including recipes that are naturally gluten-free, vegan, nut-free, and dairy-free, this is the ideal book for both everyday family or festive meals.
In Middle Eastern Sweets, Salma puts together an incredible collection of popular classic sweets. Baklava, Halva and Rice Pudding as well as refreshing Sorbets, decadent Ice Creams, Stuffed Pancakes, and Orange-Blossom Scented Cupcakes are some of the recipes you'll find.
Throughout this book, you'll have traditional recipes including Bazarek, a Syrian Sesame and Pistachio Biscuit, Toot, Persian Marzipan Sweets inspired by the famous Persian mulberry that is widely claimed to be the most flavorsome in the world, Booza, a popular frozen treat with a unique, stretchy consistency similar to mozzarella cheese, and a lot of other recipes.
Besides all the amazing recipes in Middle Eastern Sweets, the book also traces cultural and historic influences that have married with Middle Eastern ideas, most notably pâtisseries, gâteaux, and tarts from the French colonial rule of Lebanon that led to Beirut becoming “the Paris of the Middle East”. Middle Eastern flower waters meet famed French delicacies to create Orange Blossom Canelés, Spiced Pistachio Brioche, and Quince Tarte Tatin that celebrates the Middle East’s passion for quince, a rare prize that is quickly snapped up at local farmers markets.
Middle Eastern Sweets is packed with classic and traditional recipes, but it also uncovers innovative new sweets infused with Middle Eastern aromas of pistachio, rose, cardamom, orange blossom, pomegranate, and hibiscus. The book spotlights Egyptian Bread Pudding, an exotic twist on the British classic with toasted nuts and perfumed rose water, and Lebanese Tea Loaf, brought together with nutty tahini and sweet, warming spices.
The book also highlights the importance of using natural ingredients for lighter desserts and to lessen our environmental impact on the planet with recipes for Home-made Almond Milk and Sesame Power Balls, packed with plant-based protein.
Like in other previous books from Phaidon, Middle Eastern Sweets includes helpful icons to point readers to vegan, dairy-free, nut-free and gluten-free recipes. All dishes in the book have also been tried and tested in the author’s own kitchen, achievable using any oven, freezer, or stovetop without specialist equipment, techniques, or many hard-to-come-by ingredients.
Middle Eastern Sweets is another brilliant book from Salma Hage that offers a remarkably diverse collection of delights from the Middle East, from traditional recipes perfected over generations to inspired contemporary takes on baklava, halva, and ways to use tahini.
Whether a seasoned chef or an amateur baker looking to expand their repertoire, Middle Eastern Sweets is an essential addition to any kitchen that shares the belief that sweet food is not just for enjoyment, it is also for comforting, confiding, celebrating, and showing love.
Middle Eastern Sweets is a fantastic compilation of special recipes focusing on the fragrant desserts and sweets of the Middle East.