Serves 8

Aley Layali Libnan (Lebanese Nights)

A simple Lebanese pudding packed with an incredible flavor. While it is a traditional dish, each time I enjoyed this when traveling, the flavors were slightly different based on the cook’s family recipe. The cinnamon caramel syrup provides sweetness and most of the flavor punch but does not over whelm the softness of the pudding. Using orange blossom water provides a hint of flavor without added sweetness. You can substitute vanilla without greatly impacting the final dish. The pudding does require a long cool time in the refrigerator so plan ahead.

4 c whole milk, cold
¾ c semolina
1 large egg, room temperature, whisked
1 ½ T orange blossom water or 1 T vanilla

Cinnamon Caramel Syrup
2 c sugar
1 c + 2 T water
½ t cinnamon
¼ t lemon juice

2/3 c whipping cream
1 T powdered sugar
¼ t cinnamon
2 T pistachios, finely chopped

Flavor Tier 1

Whisk egg in a small bowl. Pour milk into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium low. Slowing add the semolina, stirring continuously. Continue to cook until mixture boils and thickens, about 1-2 minutes. Add 1 T of the milk mix to the egg, whisking continuously. Add an additional 2 T, one at a time, whisking continuously in order to warm the egg. Add the egg mix back to the milk mix and cook and additional 1 minute

Flavor Tier 2

Remove from heat and add the rose water or vanilla. Pour into a 2 quart glass-serving dish. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding to prevent a crust from forming. Place pudding into refrigerator and cool at least 7 hours or overnight.

Flavor Tier 3

Place ¼ c sugar and 1 T water in a medium heavy bottomed pan. Mix to dissolve sugar. Over medium high heat, cook mix until it turns golden brown. Watch carefully. It will go from golden brown to burned very quickly. Remove from heat and add remaining water. The mixture will bubble and harden. Return pan to medium high heat, add remaining sugar and stir to dissolve. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve hard bits. Turn to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Flavor Tier 4

Add cinnamon and lemon juice and cool. Once cool, pour into a jar and place in refrigerator to cool completely. (Can be stored in refrigerator for 1 month.)

Flavor Tier 5

Pour whipping cream into medium chilled bowl. Beat on high speed until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and cinnamon. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Cover and place in refrigerator until serving.

Flavor Tier 6

When ready to serve, spoon pudding into 6 serving dishes. Top with 1 ½ T whipped cream. Drizzle each serving with 2 tablespoons Caramel Cinnamon Syrup and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.