Barazek tuiles with sahlab

Last Christmas season I was in Istanbul for a short visit and while my daughter wanted to visit the beautiful monuments all around us, I only wanted one thing: to get some sahlab AKA salep or sahlep. The monuments could wait.

Sahlab AKA salep or sahlep or sahleb is a powder that is mixed with milk; the powder is extracted from orchids. It is supposed to have curative properties, but what most people love about it is that when made into ice-cream, the ice-cream becomes extraordinarily chewy.

Sahlab is also the name of a drink, made with that powder and milk. It is served in cafés in Beirut and other Eastern Arab cities.

Not only did I find some, which I bought and carried with me to Lebanon and back to the US, but I also drank some at the spice bazaar in Istanbul.

While in Beirut, I found sahleb too. So I had two packages of sahleb in my suitcase.

I made this sahlab into a thick pudding  by adding some cornstarch to the milk mixture. You can also buy a box of sahlab mix at the Middle-Eastern store. The mix will not contain the actual orchid powder, just some starch, sugar and flavoring.

These cookies were made to go with the sahlab. The name of these cookies, barazek, is the name of the most famous and popular cookie in Syria and Lebanon.

What are barazek? They are buttery, shortbread-like cookies covered with toasted sesame seeds on one side and studded with chopped pistachios on the other side.

Whenever someone in Beirut makes a short trip to Damascus, bringing a few boxes of these barazek is usually comissionned from the person travelling. Damascus is reputed for making the best barazek in the region.

Well, I am far from Damascus at the moment,  and I had some pistachios and sesame seeds in the fridge.

Guess what? We are having tuiles instead.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE TUILES:

  • 4 ounces of melted butter
  • 1/2 cup of sugar (more if you like the cookies sweeter)
  • 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, sifted when mixed to the batter
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup of toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped pistachios

METHOD:

  1. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer and beat for two or three minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the flour, egg whites, vanilla and beat till the batter is smooth.
  2. Add the sesame seeds and pistachios and mixed briefly until combined.  Place a piece of parchment or baking paper on a cookie sheet and ladle one spoonful of batter on the paper; spread it out with the back of the spoon and continue until the paper is filled, the cookie should be very thin. It will spread out considerably while baking, so don’t place more than 6 cookies per sheet.
  3. Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 7 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are browned. Remove, cool for one minute and then either shape the cookies by rolling them over a bottle or a glass or leave them as is, or cut in shards, or triangles.
  4. Serve when cool; keep in an airtight container 2 or 3 days.

TO MAKE  SAHLAB PUDDING:

  • 3 cups of milk (or 2 cups of milk and one cup of cream)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar (less or more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon of sahlab powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of crushed mastic mixed with a dash of sugar (optional)
  • 3 Tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 1 cinnamon stick

METHOD:

  1. Heat the milk with the cinnamon stick. Reserve 1/2 cup of milk to mix with the sahlab powder. Add the sahlab mixture to the milk, add the sugar and mix over medium heat until the milk starts steaming. Add the cornstarch, previously dissolved in 1/4 cup of water and stir continuously.
  2. Add to the mixture the mastic, previously crushed with a dash of sugar. Stir until the mixture thickens and pour through a sieve into a jug. Spread the mixture between several pudding goblets and let it cool uncovered in the fridge.

NOTE: If you are using the mix, just increase the amount of cornstarch. Use a mixture of milk and cream to make the pudding.

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40 Comments

  1. Posted December 25, 2010 at 2:33 am | Permalink

    Merry Christmas!!! Sretan Bozic tebi i tvojoj porodici i sve najbolje za Novu 2011. godinu!
    Maja

  2. Posted December 25, 2010 at 2:55 am | Permalink

    Wow, wish I had known about that when I was in Istanbul and at the spice bazaar! I’ve never heard of it. Next time I’ll have to go with you!

  3. Posted December 25, 2010 at 4:38 am | Permalink

    That combo is heavenly!

    Happy holidays!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  4. Posted December 25, 2010 at 4:51 am | Permalink

    Sympa ton site, merci on y apprend pleins de jolies choses

  5. Posted December 25, 2010 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    They look so crispy and delicious!

  6. Posted December 25, 2010 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Food first, monuments second. I like the way you think.

    These tuiles look delicious! I love the crisp nuttiness of them.

    Merry Christmas!

  7. Posted December 25, 2010 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Yes, yes, the monuments can wait…they’ve been there a long time!

    Thanks for the introduction to sahlab and I love those cookies.

    All the best to you and your family in 2011.

  8. Posted December 25, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    I am reading a book set in Turkey and how my waser lusting heart aches :) I love learning all the new things about middle eastern cuisine from you. My dear Joumana, one lifetime is not enough to learn all about the cuisines of the world…the more I learn, the less I know!

    The tuilies are fab and the pudding is oh so creamy. I must look for the Sahlab at the Middle Eastern store.

    ciao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  9. Posted December 25, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Ugh….I meant wander lusting heart :)

  10. Posted December 25, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Merry Christmas. We’ve just had a Christmas Day that was far too warm (for the first time since we came to Turkey) for even thinking about a comforting sahlep. Almost looking forward to some colder temperatures so I can justify ordering one.

  11. Posted December 25, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    My grandma was telling me stories about the people who were selling salep. I have never tried it but I would love to. I want to go to Istanbul as well.

  12. Posted December 25, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Merry Christmas, Joumana! I think I have had sahlab, in Syria. A drink mixed with an orchid-based powder? It sounds exotic and romantic all at once.I will be in search of it, or ordering it from traveling friends! It’s very soothing. And I’ve DEF had those cookies. They’re amazing. Love them.

  13. Posted December 25, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Merry Christmas, Joumana!

  14. Posted December 25, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    I adore tuiles! These look so crisp and delicious! A wonderful holiday snack.
    Merry Christmas, Joumana!

  15. Posted December 25, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    trs belle recette et à l’air facile à préparer, merci pour le partage et merci pour toute ses informations utile.

  16. Posted December 25, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    I tried some of the chewy ice-cream when I was in Istanbul – it was like no other ice-cream I have ever tasted, my husband and I loved it!

    Your cookies look fantastic. Sesame seeds get neglected in sweet dishes of the western world which is a real shame, their flavour is quite divine and goes so perfectly with other flavours like honey.

  17. Alice
    Posted December 25, 2010 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    I had the sahlab drink when we went to Istanbul, so I was excited about this! I just tasted it, and it was really great… it warmed my whole body with just a sip! The amount of spices and ingredients were perfect :)

  18. Posted December 26, 2010 at 4:30 am | Permalink

    salut joumana
    quand j’irai à istambul j”en cherhceria aussi
    bonnes fêtes à Beyrouth!!
    Pierre
    ps il fait si froid à paris !!!!

  19. Posted December 26, 2010 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Joumana – Wishing you and your family a delicious holiday season. Can’t wait to see what great food you’ll share with us in 2011! Cheers – S

  20. Posted December 26, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Those are really cool tuiles. And I MUST get my hands on some real sahlab…chewy ice cream?

  21. Posted December 26, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Excellents tes tuiles, je les adore aussi bien en version salées que sucrées
    Bye …

  22. Posted December 26, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never made tuiles and love them. But I really want that thick pudding. Just a mouth-watering, comforting, creamy posting. Chewy ice cream? Yes!

  23. Posted December 26, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    I love the picture of all those spices. And your tuiles are beautiful!

  24. Posted December 26, 2010 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Wishing you a lovely holiday, Joumana – I learn so much about traditions, special ingredients and wonderful, exotic flavors from your blog. Many blessings in 2011!

  25. Posted December 26, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    Those tuiles look deliciously textured and flavored with the sesame seeds and bits of pistachios.

    Thanks for introducing me to sahlab, I haven’t heard of it before and appreciate learning new things. ;)

  26. Posted December 26, 2010 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    looks wonderful…have to try this

  27. Posted December 27, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    What beautiful tuiles, Joumana! They make the perfect accompaniment to sahlab.

  28. Posted December 27, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    These tuiles remind me a bit of sesame honey cakes, which I love, only these look much lighter and like they wouldn’t get stuck in the back of my teeth and threaten to pull out my filling. Also I am trying to get my head around the idea of “chewy ice cream.”

  29. Posted December 27, 2010 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    I much appreciate your visits and comments to my blog.
    I have known your website since a long time and always drop an eye
    when I have a chance. I very much like the pictures and the explanations..
    COMPLIMENTI !
    Gunther

  30. SYLVIA
    Posted December 27, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    You inspire me joumana, The tuiles look very festive in the white sahlab. This silky smooth pudding makes an elegant ending to any meal. No matter where you’re from these melt in your mouth cookies remind you of the middle east. This is always a crowd-pleaser, loaded with pistachios and sesame seeds for extra crunchy goodness it makes them irresistible. Homemade barazek is even more delicious when dunked in pudding or coffee.
    Joumana, I was wondering, can you make this barazek recipe into the original round shape?

  31. Joumana
    Posted December 27, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    @Sylvia: This is going to be my next project; the tuiles are easy to make but do not keep; I will have a traditional barazek (with the molasses) recipe for you shortly my dear Sylvia!:)

  32. Posted December 28, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    It looks very nice, I would like to taste it. I do not know this sahlab – thanks for sharing !

  33. Posted December 31, 2010 at 12:14 am | Permalink

    I have seen the sahlab in the grocery store and have been so intrigued. I cannot wait to try it as well as make these incredibly delicious looking cookies.

  34. Posted January 7, 2011 at 3:47 am | Permalink

    i like it

  35. Posted January 11, 2011 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    The chewiness of the ice cream comes from the addition of mastic, which is a key ingredient in chewing gum.

    Sahlab is a wonderful wintertime treat.

  36. eiad
    Posted June 3, 2012 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    hi i want to know where can i buy sahlep around san francisco if possible email me back or leave me a number 4157241899

  37. Joumana
    Posted June 3, 2012 at 2:26 am | Permalink

    @Where in San Fransisco do you live? I know a store in Sunset

  38. Perla
    Posted January 1, 2014 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Just made some sahlab. It tastes really good .this is the perfect pudding for a cold rainy day ! Thank you for the recipie

  39. sarah
    Posted July 22, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    coucou!
    j’ai eu l’idee de faire du sahlab et de le mettre au congelateur apres.
    resultats : une glace sublime!
    sans sorbetiere ni rien , juste quelques ramequins et un congelo , voila tout ce qui faut .
    a refaire ce weekend pour un diner en famille :)))

  40. Joumana
    Posted July 22, 2014 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    @Sarah: Bravo!

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