Lebanon is a small country with the distinction of having been occupied by many cultures through the ages; most recently, the Ottomans were in charge for a few centuries and left an imprint on food. In fact, a lot of the foods people eat is an Ottoman legacy (like shawarma or baklava). In my grandmother’s time, when she and her friends would play backgammon they’d say the numbers in Turkish. Here is a Turkish dessert that would feel right at home in Lebanon.
I saw this dessert on Claudia Turgut‘s blog. I had one unopened box of halvah in the cupboard (here called halawa). It is very simple and bakes in just minutes. Halvah is the equivalent of peanut butter in Lebanon. A former Lebanese Army general was telling me recently that it is eaten for breakfast in the Army ranks (with bread).
This simple but rich dessert is the Turkish equivalent of crème brulée, except it only contains halvah and milk and no eggs.
- 350 g. halvah (I used 1/2 a standard box)
- 1/2 cup milk (I used light whipping cream 20cl or 200 g.)
- juice of half a lemon (did not have a lemon, skipped it)
- cinnamon to sprinkle (I used ground pistachios)
- a few mini chocolate chips (optional)
- Place the halvah in the bowl of a food processor, in chunks if possible. Add the cream or milk and purée the mixture; it needs to be thick but a bit runny. If it is still slightly granular, don’t worry, it will be as smooth as silk after the time in the oven.
- Bake for 5 minutes in a hot oven. Sprinkle with cinnamon or pistachios and serve lukewarm.
NOTE: I confess I sprinkled a few chocolate chips in the cream prior to baking!
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