Sweet, Sweet Shaaibiat
This recipe is from Lebanon.
Any afternoon gathering with family and/or friends, especially in the winter
Turning any event into a special occasion!
15-20 minutes to prepare sugar syrup
15 minutes approximately for cream preparation
25-30 minutes pastry preparation (cutting) and cream and pastry assembly
15-25 minutes approximately to bake, depending on type (electric or gas) and quality of the oven
3 cups/750 ml milk
¾ cup/90 g corn flour
½ cup/60g fine semolina
1 cup/200 g sugar
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
25 sheets frozen filo pastry to be thawed
1 cup/200 g melted ghee
Sugar Syrup (see recipe below)
2 tablespoons pistachio nuts, crushed
Sugar syrup Ingredients
2½ cups/500 g sugar
1 cup/250 ml water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon rose water
1 orange blossom water
2 tablespoons lemon blossom in syrup
Prepare syrup ahead of time. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar and water and keep stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
Place saucepan over a medium heat and bring the mixture to boil.
Skim the froth from the top of the syrup.
Add lemon juice and reduce heat to low.
Continue to boil without stirring for another 10 minutes.
Add rose water and orange blossom water, stir and remove from heat.
Leave to cool.
Preheat oven to 200°C/390°F
Precision: the right oven temperature and patience are key for the best outcome
To prepare the cream, place milk, cornflour and fine semolina in a large saucepan and bring to boil, stirring constantly.
Add sugar and continue stirring until mixture thickens.
Add orange blossom water and stir.
Place aside to allow cream to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, cut filo pastry sheets into 10 cm squares.
Place 10 sheets on top of each other to create one piece of Shaaibiat, brushing each square with melted ghee while stacking them.
Important: do not attempt to substitute ghee with butter or oil as this will greatly affect both the texture and flavour. Allow yourself this indulgence every now and then!
Mix the cooled cream mixture until it is smooth.
Spoon 2 tablespoons of cream mixture over each Shaaibiat and fold it to form a triangle.
Arrange Shaaibiat into a non-stick lightly greased oven tray.
Brush each piece of Shaaibiat with remaining melted ghee and bake in the preheated oven at 200°C/390°F for 15-25 minutes or until in golden colour.
While hot and still on the tray, pour cold syrup generously over each piece. Garnish with pistachios and lemon blossoms in syrup and serve.
Best eaten on the day they’re made. Enjoy!!
Sweet, Sweet Shaaibiat
by Wafaa Beaini
Eating Shaaibiat evokes some of my most precious childhood memories.
As a young girl, I spent most of my school holidays in Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon, with my mum’s family. This included my grandmother, two aunties and two uncles.
Back in those days, it was popular to buy Shaaibiat and other traditional Lebanese sweets from vans that ran around Beirut’s streets and neighbourhoods delivering various yummy desserts. My eldest aunty, who was the breadwinner in her family at that time, used to wait for the van from the window of their kitchen and wave for the driver to stop under their veranda.
I can still remember her preparing large, white and spotless dishes to be filled with pieces of the sweets she bought and her cheerfully serving them to us all. With her charming smile and glittering blue eyes, she would urge us to eat the Shaaibiats while they were still warm as they would taste better.
The smell of the freshly baked Shaaibiat filled the house with its aromatic syrup, adding to the fun and excitement of our mornings. Back then, the excitement I felt was more about spending quality time with my beloved grandmother and my dearest aunties and uncles, with whom I share some of the best memories of my life.
Now, with grandchildren of my own and living as a migrant in Australia, Shaaibiat is more about my nostalgia for those very special moments. This is why it’s one of my favourite recipes, and it fills me with joy and pride to be able to share my story with you.
With its crispy, syrupy filo pastry that is filled with a rich and delicious cream, Shaaibiat stands out in every popular sweet shop in Lebanon as an irresistible delicacy that can, with some patience, be easily made and mastered at home.
*Filo pastry: a very thin, unleavened dough used for making pastries.
*Rose water: a flavoured water made by soaking rose petals in water.
*Orange blossom water (also known as Orange flower water): scented water that is also a by-product of the distillation of fresh bitter-orange blossoms (which are used for their essential oils). If your country has specialty Lebanese/Middle Eastern stores, both rose water and orange blossom water can often be bought there. In some places, leading supermarkets may even stock them. They are the core flavours and staple ingredients in Lebanese cuisine in particular and the Middle Eastern culinary landscape in general. In Australia, they have been gaining more popularity recently.
*Lemon blossoms in syrup: a syrup made from the blossoms of the aromatic lemon flowers. The blossoms become red after preservation, and are often used to garnish traditional sweets, making them very appealing to the eye. The syrup can be difficult to find and might be only available at some Lebanese sweet shops.
*Ghee: clarified Butter. Ghee is available in many local supermarkets and Asian stores in Australia. It adds richness and flavour to the filo pastry, giving it a crispy texture and a pleasant golden colour too.
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