lebanese dessert recipe, semolina cakes
Food

Halise – A Sweet Baked Lebanese Dessert Recipe

Follow or Share the Hobby Love!:

This is a recipe I made many years ago while visiting my family many states away. During that visit, we had a really fun day where we cooked Lebanese food with my grandma, aunts, and cousins (my Grandma is Lebanese).

We cooked many foods that day like stuffed grape leaves, Hushwey, and a Greek salad my Grandma calls “Salata”. We then picked up authentic hummus and baba ganoush from a local Mediterranean grocery store. And had a Mediterranean feast!

After filling up on all those good eats, we enjoyed a Lebanese dessert recipe called Halise, which is pronounced /hall-ees/ (sorry, I know it should be the upside down e and then long e sound, but alt codes are failing WordPress!)

Many Names

There are many other names for this type of dessert besides Halise. Maybe you’ve heard it called Harese, Hareesa, Namoura, Sfouf, or Basbousa? So, maybe you have had this before, but it was called something different!

I looked around the interwebs, but I could not find this exact recipe anywhere on the internet. Most of the recipes have yogurt and baking soda and many have eggs.

This specific recipe was handwritten on an aged yellow index card by my Grandma’s Grandmother. So, that means it’s legit, right?!

Birthday Meal

Soon after I had visited my extended family, my mom’s birthday came around. My mom wasn’t able to go on that trip, and so didn’t get to eat the food she remembered her step-mother making in her childhood.

So, I did the next best thing, and made the Lebanese food that she had missed out on for her Birthday dinner!

I brought pita bread, hummus, and halise over. Then, as a family we made hushwey (a cinnamon flavored beef or lamb recipe with rice) and salata (a greek salad with lots of lemon!).

By the way, I have recipes for those other foods too! Let me know in the comments if those sound interesting!

Two Versions

Although this dessert recipe I’m posting was very good when we made it on our cooking day, I decided to try my hand at making another, healthier version, of the recipe. I was curious to see if it could still taste good with less sugar and less calories. So, I’m actually sharing two recipes below!

Halise is supposed to be made with blanched almonds, but in the interest of time, and what I had on hand, I used whole (skin on) almonds.

Here’s Version 1, The Original Recipe:

Halise, The Original Version

A Lebanese dessert recipe made with semolina flour and topped with orange blossom water syrup and almonds.
Prep Time2 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Baking Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 17 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Servings: 40 slices

Ingredients

For Semolina Cakes

  • 4 Cups Milk
  • 1 1/2 Cups Sugar
  • 2 Cups Cream of Wheat
  • 1 Cup Butter unsalted
  • 40 Blanched almonds

For Syrup

  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Capful Lemon juice, Bottled
  • 1 Capful Orange Blossom Water See Notes

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 baking pan.
  • In a medium sized pot add milk, sugar, cream of wheat and butter and cook on medium until cream of wheat is very stiff.
  • Spoon stiff cream of wheat into greased 9×13 pan, smooth top, then cut into 1"x1" diamonds or triangles.
  • Add one blanched almond to each triangle then bake in preheated oven for 50 to 90 minutes or until edges start to brown.
  • Meanwhile, prepare syrup by adding sugar and water to small pot and cooking for 20 minutes on low, stirring occasionally.
  • Then add lemon juice and orange blossom water and cook 5 additional minutes.
  • Refrigerate syrup until cooled.
  • When edges of Halise are golden, remove pan from oven, re-cut same lines of triangles, then pour COLD syrup over top HOT Halise and enjoy.

Notes

If you can’t find orange blossom water, you can substitute fresh squeezed orange juice or a combination of grenadine and orange liquor.

And Version 2, A Healthier Halise

Halise, A Healthier Version

This recipe uses whole wheat grains and substitutes like honey for sugar. Still has a great taste! Recipe is also halved from the original.
Prep Time2 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Baking Time40 mins
Total Time57 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Servings: 20

Ingredients

For Semolina Cakes

  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Honey raw
  • 1 C Whole Wheat, Cream of Wheat
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 Tbsp Canola oil
  • 20 almonds blanched if you have them

For Syrup:

  • 1/2 Cup water
  • 1/4 Cup, Heaping Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 capful bottled lemon juice
  • 1/2 capful orange blossom water

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 8×8 baking pan.
  • In a medium sized pot add milk, sugar, honey cream of wheat and oils and cook on medium until cream of wheat is very stiff.
  • Spoon stiff cream of wheat into greased pan, smooth top, then cut into 1″x1″ diamonds or triangles.
  • Add one blanched almond to each triangle then bake in preheated oven for 35-50 minutes or until edges start to brown.
  • Meanwhile, prepare syrup by adding sugar, water, and honey to small pot and cooking for 20 minutes on low, stirring occasionally.
  • Then add lemon juice and orange blossom water and cook 5 additional minutes.
  • Refrigerate syrup until cooled.
  • When edges of Halise are golden, remove pan from oven, re-cut same lines of triangles, then pour COLD syrup over top HOT Halise and enjoy.

Notes

If you can’t find orange blossom water, you can substitute fresh squeezed orange juice or a combination of grenadine and orange liquor.
semolina based Mediterranean dessert

So, If you are looking for a unique dessert recipe, try this out! And if you do, let me know how you liked it in the comments!

Happy Baking!

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.