Food

3 Classic Middle Eastern Desserts to Try in Philly

Keep an eye out for these popular sugary confections.


Pastries, cakes, cookies and confections are crucial to the Middle Eastern spread. Here, three classics to look for on dessert menus or at local bakeries Manakeesh and Bishos.

Basbousa

middle eastern desserts

Photograph by Michael Persico

Basbousa, also known as namoura, is a sticky-sweet semolina cake — sometimes mixed with coconut for added depth, sometimes made creamy with yogurt — baked to a crisp and then drenched in sugar syrup to give it its custardy texture.

Halvah

middle eastern desserts

Photograph by Michael Persico

Halvah is to the streets of the Middle East as taffy is to the Jersey Shore — it’s quite literally everywhere. Each maker has its own flavor twist for this confection of tehina and sugar blended with herbs and spices.

Kanafeh

middle eastern desserts

Photograph by Michael Persico

Like basbousa (and so many other Middle Eastern desserts), kanafeh is soaked in sugar syrup. But kanafeh is also stuffed with — no joke — salty, stretchy, melty cheese (or sometimes cream or pudding). You know, salty and sweet.

Published as “Sweet Talk” in the May 2019 issue of Philadelphia magazine.



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