The lip-smacking Israeli desserts are a combination of cookies, pudding, and pastry delights. Some like Kunāfah and Tahini Cookies are common all over the Middle East. Others like Mandelbrot, Sufganiyot, and Kichel have been introduced to Israeli cuisine by the Jewish settlers. No matter its origin, the diverse flavors and contrasting textures of most of the desserts are pretty relishing. There are some chocolaty delights as well-loved by children and adults alike.
Kunāfah is a popular Ramadan dessert not only in Israel but all over the Middle East. It comprises two layers of vermicelli-like pastry called kataifi stuffed with a combination of cheese, orange zest, and cardamom. Before serving, it is drizzled in a sugary syrup infused with orange blossom water or lemon juice.
The elegant-looking cheese pastry is rich and flavorful with a crunchy outer layer and a smooth, creamy filling. Toppings of crushed pistachios enrich it further adding to its nuttiness’.
Mandelbrot means almond bread though it is more of a crunchy cookie. Its preparation includes twice baking the shortbread dough containing flour, eggs, oil, and toasted almonds, giving it a crisp texture like an Italian biscotti.
Though its place of origin is not much known, Mandelbrot is identified as a Jewish staple dessert now famous worldwide. Several modern versions exist, having candied fruits, chocolate chips, butter, and walnuts in the mixture. Besides being a dessert, it is also enjoyed as a snack or even in breakfast with a cup of tea.
This easy-to-prepare Middle Eastern delight is made with crumbly cookie dough that incorporates tahini paste, butter, and sugar. It is not overly sweet, melting in the mouth at an instant.
In other versions, it is slightly crispy on the outside and chewy inside. Toppings of sesame seeds or almonds give it an attractive look besides intensifying its richness. Enjoying them in the afternoon with a glass of milk or any hot beverage is pure bliss.
Sufganiyot is a mouth-watering jelly-filled donut believed to be introduced to the country by the Jews. Traditionally eaten during the Jewish, Hanukkah, they are fried in oil, symbolizing the oil lamps burned for eight nights during this time.
A soft and chewy delight, it sells like hot cakes in bakeries many days before the festive season. In addition to the basic strawberry jam filling, other versions have different fillings like honey, custard, chocolate, dulce de leche, etc. There is also the savory form, mostly eaten outside Israel, with lamb bacon, or chicken schnitzel, going in as fillings.
Kichel is a traditional Jewish dessert made with a sticky dough consisting of sugar, flour, salt, sesame seeds, and eggs. It has been rightly nicknamed ‘nothings’ due to its delicate and airy nature that quickly melts and disappears into the mouth.
The bow tie-shaped cookies are coated with icing sugar making them extra sweet. Outside Israel, it is also served with a savory dip or side dish. The Jews in South Africa team them with chopped herring.
Hamantashen are Jewish cookies comprising a dough made of eggs, sugar, flour, salt, and baking powder, typically filled with poppy seeds. What’s more interesting is its tri-cornered shape representing the hat of Haman, an antagonist who planned to kill the Jews as per the Book of Esther.
These cookie delights are enjoyed during the Jewish holiday Purim to commemorate the survival of the Jews from Haman’s attack. They have a crumbly texture and can be stuffed with other ingredients like apricot, chocolate, or prune jam.
Ugat bisquvitim is a classic no-bake cheesecake commonly prepared in every Israeli household. The main ingredients include Israeli tea biscuits, milk, heavy cream, and vanilla pudding. Instead of baking, it is refrigerated overnight, giving it a smooth layered cake-like texture. Many a time, it is topped with chocolate shavings for a better look and taste. Delicious and satisfying, a slice of it is best accompanied with tea or coffee in the evening.
Israeli sesame halwa is one of the many variations of this sweet delicacy. It is dense and flaky, made with a combination of tahini, honey, and sometimes almonds or other nuts. You can also use additional flavorings and ingredients like coconut, dried fruits, coffee, or lemon zest to give it a little twist in taste.
Malabi, a delicious rice pudding, is the Israeli variant of the Turkish dessert muhallebi, prepared from sugar, milk, rice alongside any one of the three ingredients – semolina, starch, or rice flour.
In Israel, toppings of chopped pistachio, dried coconut, and syrup of either orange flower water or rose water are added to the pudding.
The inclusion of food coloring at the results in the bright red coating right on top. Besides the milky, creamy flavor, the pudding tastes nutty and aromatic.
These authentic Israeli stuffed dates are gluten-free, energizing, and easy to make. Its simple procedure includes stuffing almond paste into pitted dates and topping it with a whole almond. A drizzle of date honey gives it the sweetness and adds to the predominant flavors of date. It can be either enjoyed warm and gooey after baking or chilled, hard, and sticky after refrigerating.
Krembo is a chocolaty delight sold seasonally in sweet shops from October to February. It consists of a soft crumbly cookie base made of egg yolks, butter, sugar, milk, flour, and vanilla extract. A smooth combination of sugar, water, and egg whites form the marshmallow filling, which is finally coated with a hard shell of milk chocolate. The varied layers and taste make it an instant hit among children and adults alike.
Preparing these sweet delicacies at home will surely satisfy the cravings of a sweet lover and, at the same time, will give you a snapshot of Israeli history and culture. Apart from these, various other tasty desserts are famous here and equally enjoyed in various Middle Eastern countries. Some of them, like kadurei shokolad and chocolate rugelach, are a must-try as well. Besides these sweet dishes, the main course platter including falafel, and challa are also ought not to be missed.
Classic Israeli Dessert: Malabi, Kunāfah, Sufganiyot
Hello there! My name is Jay and I run this website. I'm a full-time traveler and freelance writer. This is where I share travel advice and help people pursue their traveling dreams.
You can learn more about me and my mission on the about me page.
It's nice to have you here :)