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Halawet El Jibn (Sweet Cheese Rolls) Recipe

Halawet El Jibn (Sweet Cheese Rolls)
Halawet El Jibn (Sweet Cheese Rolls)

A delectable Arabic dessert made from rolls of soft, sweet cheese dough that gets stuffed with clotted cream, adorned with pistachios and rose petal jam. A drizzle of orange blossom and rose water flavored syrup puts the final seal of perfection. Recipe could be halved if you don't need that many.

Author: Cleobuttera
Serves: About 60 pieces


For the syrup:
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
A squeeze of lemon juice (about ½ teaspoon)
¾ teaspoon orange blossom water
¾ teaspoon rose water

For the sweet cheese rolls:
1 cup water
½ cup sugar
1 cup fine semolina (known in Arabic as semeed basbousa)
2 cups (10oz, 284g) mozzarella cheese, shredded (*see note)
2 tablespoons rose water

For filling the rolls:
400 grams (about 1lb) fresh eshta (clotted cream), (**see note for substitution)

Pistachios, ground (for garnishing)
Rose petal jam, for garnishing (optional)


To make the sugar syrup: (Can be made up to a week in advance)
  1. In the small saucepan, combine together the sugar, water and squeeze of lemon juice. Set on the stove top over medium high heat.
  2. Bring to a rolling boil, then immediately reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for no longer than 10 minutes. Set a timer! The syrup will thicken slightly, and have a consistency similar to pancake syrup. If it simmers for longer it could thicken too much and become candy-like and not pourable. Stir in the orange blossom and rose water
  3. Transfer to a serving bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
To make the cheese rolls:
  1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, heat together the water and sugar, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil then add in the fine semolina, stirring constantly with a spatula until well combined and slightly thickened; about 30 seconds.
  2. Turn down the heat to medium, then add in the cheese and rose water, and stir well until the cheese melts and the mixture forms a soft, cohesive dough. Allow to cool briefly until it's warm enough to handle.
  3. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces; take 1 half of the dough to work with and cover the other half. Turn out the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and cover with another sheet. Roll out the dough between the 2 sheets of plastic wrap, into a 9X13 inch (23cmX33cm) rectangle. Remove the plastic wrap on top. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, trim off the irregular sides of the dough to form a clean cut rectangle. You could use a ruler or the edge of an object to help you get straight sides.
  4. Fill a piping bag with the eshta (clotted cream) and snip off about 1 inch (2 cm) of the tip. Start piping the eshta on the long side closest to you, leaving a 1 inch (2cm) border. Alternatively, you could just spoon the eshta on the dough with a spoon.
  5. Using the plastic wrap under the dough, lift the dough and roll it over the cream filling, until the cream filling is completely covered, the dough seals it in and looks like a thin log. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, make a cut along side the log to slice it off from the rest of the dough. Repeat this process to make make 2 more logs.
  6. For cleaner cuts, place the logs in the freezer for about 15 minutes to firm them up a little; its not necessary though. Then using a sharp knife or bench scraper, divide the logs into 1¾inch (4cm) pieces. You should have 30 to 32 pieces.
  7. Repeat with the other piece of dough.
  8. Arrange the rolls on the serving platter, sprinkle each with a little ground pistachios in the center and rose petal jam.
  9. Serve alongside the syrup, drizzling each piece with some before eating.
  10. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator.
* Authentic recipes for Halawet El Jibn calls for Arabic cheeses like Akkawi and Majdoola instead of mozzarella. I've opted for mozzarella here, due to its worldwide accessibily, low salt content and its great results. Both Akkawi and Majdoola could be hard to find and are very salty, which require soaking in water to remove the salt. If you'd prefer to use them, just use 1 cup (50z) of each, then slice them and cover them with warm water in a bowl. Let them soak for 30 minutes, then drain. Taste, if still salty, repeat the process until all the salt has been removed. Using your hands, squeeze cheese to remove any excess moisture.

**Although far from authenticity, Mascarpone cheese may be substituted for the eshta if you can't find it. It has a similar taste that would just fine here.

Source: http://cleobuttera.com

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