Fenugreek Olive Oil Cake – Helbeh


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“Even if honey be your cup,
Restrain your taste; don’t lick it all up.”
“ان كان حبيبك عسل, ما تلحسوش كله”

(An old and traditional Arabic saying)


It’s been a long time since the last post I had, but I must admit that I can’t go away for ever, my love for cooking and sharing the love exceeds any limits. Today I’m back with one of my family’s favorite winter sweets, Helbeh. The recipe had been on my Facebook page and I’m supposed to post it for a long time ago, but since it’s winter sweets, It will be perfect in these chilly days.

It’s a traditional Palestinian sweets, similar to many other Levant’ sweet cakes, a sweet spicy cake soaked in sugar syrup. Helba or Helbeh named in arabic for the seeds, Fenugreek, which is the star that gives the distinctive nutty taste and enticing smell that makes your kitchen smells welcoming warm and aromatic. This sweet cake is very healthy since using olive oil to make the dough which is very good for health and cholesterol. Besides Fenugreek, this cake contain Nigella seeds, sesame seeds, it also have fennel seeds, and anise seeds (both grounded).

Fenugreek, an aromatic bittersweet spice, has strong flavor. It’s a small seed, that is actually a legume that grows in India and in some places of the mediterranean. Mostly dry roasted and used in curry, and pickles. This little seed has proteins, fibre and Vitamin C, niacin, potassium, iron and alkaloids. It’s very nutritious and healthy; it increases milk production among nursing mothers, helps reduce symptoms of PMS, reduce cholesterol, increases the libido, reduces heartburn, you can lose weight by reducing the appetite, and cure skin inflammations.

Nigella seed looks like black sesame seed and has a faint cumin flavor. Nigella seeds are very healthy especially known for skin and hair. It also have a bitter taste, so less than 1 tablespoon is perfect for this dough recipe.

I took the recipe from my mother in law, she’s very talented and her sweets always yummy. Her way is to toast the dried seeds a little, but not to burn it, this will give the cake very tasty aroma then grind it, in this recipe I used all-purpose flour. Some recipes use semolina flour instead of all-purpose flour, others use both together. When using semolina flour alone, you can soak the Fenugreek in water then boil it and use it as whole in the dough without grinding it, some of the soaking water is used to make the dough too.

Always make the cake at least a day before you want to serve it, as the flavors need time to come together.


Fenugreek Olive Oil Cake – Helbeh

1 cup semolina or farina flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon yeast
2 tablespoon anise seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon black seeds
3 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
2 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
3 tablespoon sugar
dash of salt
3\4 cup olive oil
about 1 1\2 cup milk
1 tablespoon oil or tahini for the tray.

In a pan, toast the fenugreek seeds a little for 2-3 minutes on low heat, shake and stir frequently and try not to burn them. In a coffee blender, grind 1 tablespoon of anise seeds with the caraway and fennel seeds and the toasted fenugreek.
Add the ground spices and the yeast, sugar, and salt to flour and farina, mix together. Add the olive oil and mix it with dry ingredients. With your finger tips, rub the flour with the oil until it soaked.

helba 1

Warm the milk, add it to the dough and knead together, until you have a soft and smooth dough, let rest for 15 minutes.
Grease 12×17 inch sheet tray with oil or tahini, spread the dough evenly and smooth its surface. let rest in a warm place covered for 1 hour.

helbeh 2
Heat the oven at 400 f, bake for 15-20 minutes, bring it to the upper rack and let golden brown a little.
Once you get it out from the oven, soak it with the cold sugar syrup, let stand until cool.

helbeh 3

Enjoy it, and remember to left some for the next day, since it will become more delicious.

For the sugar syrup:
2 cups sugar
1 1\2 cups water
1\2 teaspoon lemon juice

In sauce pan, add sugar to water, bring to boil, let boil on low heat for 15 min, add the lemon juice at the end.
Let to cool.



2 كوب طحين
1كوب سميد
3 ملعقه كبيره حب حلبه
2 ملعقه كبيره ينسون حب
2 ملعقه كبيره سمسم
1ملعقه كبيره قزحه
1 ملعقه كبيره كراويه حب
1 ملعقه كبيره شومر حب
1ملعقه صغيره خميره
حليب سائل حوالي  1 1\2 كوب
3/4 كوب زيت زيتون
رشة ملح
3 ملعقه كبيره سكر


تحمص الحلبه بمقلاه على نار خفيفه قليلا مع الانتباه والتحريك لحتى لا تخترق ولمده دقائق فقط ثم تطحن بمكينة الفهوه مع الكراويه اوالشومر وملعقه من اليانسون الحب.
نضع جميع المقادير الناشفه ونخلط. ثم نضيف الزيت ونخلط وباطراف الاصابع نفرك المواد مع بعضها لحتى تتشرب الزيت.ثم نعجنها قليلا بالحليب مع اضافة الحليب بين الحين والاخر بكميات قليله حتى تتكون عجينه طريه.
نتركها ربع ساعه ترتاح ثم نفردها في الصينيه بعد دهنها بالطحينيه او الزيت, نقطعها حسب الرغبه الى مربعات. ونتركها ساعه تخمر.
نخبزها على 400 د حتى يحمر وجهها. نكون محضرين القطر ويكون بارد ونسقيها.
هذه الكميه يلزمها 2 كوب سكر مع 1 1\2 كوب ماء.
نضعها على النار حتى تغلي نخفف الحراره ونتركها ل 10 دقائق اخرى.
نضع بضع قطرات من عصير الليمون في اخر دقيقه.
نتركها تبرد تماما


Baklava Twist Cookies


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Experience the Levant’s taste with this melt in your mouth butter cookies topped with baklava pistachio nut filling.


As schools started yesterday, my schedule already being full to the top. I can’t feel the time when it quickly passing by between the kids, school, and home. I guess this is everybodies problem these days, everyone seems in a hurry to catch up with his own piled stuffs to do.

The great advantage about cookies is that most of them can be made in advance, so they always be ready for any upcoming occasion whenever you’re busy which leaves you time to do other stuffs or if you just settle down to end your working day with sweet treat and an afternoon cup of coffee or a relaxing cup of tea.


Baklava Twist Cookies

  • 1 cup (8ounces) butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 2 teaspoon rosewater

Nut Topping

  • 2/3 cup roasted unsalted shelled pistachios, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 teaspoon rosewater

1- make nut topping, combine all ingredients together in small bowl, set aside.
2- beat butter, sugar, and extract in small bowl with electric mixer until smooth. Transfer mixer to large bowl, stir in sifted flour and corn starch in two batches. Stir in rosewater.
3- wrap the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

backlava twist

4- preheat oven to 350 f. Roll rounded tablespoon of mixer into balls, roll each ball into 4 inch log. Twist each log into a loop, overlapping one end into the other. Place twists about 1 inch apart on oven tray.
5- top each twist with 1/2 teaspoon nut topping.
6- bake twists about 10 minutes, cool on trays. Store in air tight container.

backlava twist 2


بسكويت مجدل بحشوة البقلاوه
١ كوب زبده لينه
١/٣ كوب سكر ناعم
١ م ص فانيلا
١ ٣/٤ كوب طحين متعدد الاستعمال
١/٤ كوب كورن فلور( نشا)
٢ م ص ماء ورد

مقادير حشوة الوجه

٢/٣ كوب فستق حلبي نيء غير مملح محمص ومطحون وسط
٢ م ك عسل
٣ م ك ماء ورد

نخلط مقادير الحشوة مع بعض
نخفق الزبده والسكر ونضيف الفانيلا
بالتدريج نضيف الطحين والنشا الى الخليط ثم نضيف ماء الورد
نغلف العجينه ونتركها ترتاح بتلتلاجه من ١-٢ س
نقسم العجينه الى كرات بحجم ملعقه كبيره ونشكل كل كره الى اسطوانه بطول ٤ انش
نلف طرف الى الاخر بحيث يكون كل طرف فوق الاخر
نصفها بصينيه ١ انش بين كل واحده
نضع مقدار ١/٢ م ص من الحشوه فوق كل حبه من البسكويت ونخبزها بفرن محمى مسبقا على ٣٥٠ ف لمدة ١/٠ د


Almond Crescent Cookies


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A powder sugar-coated butter cookies loaded with nutty roasted almond made for special occasions.

almond crescent

Cookies are the one sweet treat that no one can pass up. Because they’re small, and easy to eat on the go, they’re the perfect snack anytime your sweet tooth starts nagging for a quick fix.
A classic holiday favorites, very easy to make, popular through out the world during celebrations. These crescents also make a welcome gift, just wrap and zip it in a decorative tin.

almond crescent

Very light and tasty cookies, combine between luxury creamy butter taste and nutty roasted almonds, scented perfectly with orange blossom water then decorated with copious amounts of confectioner sugar. Butter is essential to the exquisite texture and flavor, use good quality butter for better taste. For the crunch part, I used a home made almond meal, which adds more crunch than using the store bought one. The dough is refrigerated before it’s worked by hands into familiar half moon shapes.

How to make your own almond meal:
Almond meal is also called almond flour, which is just very finely ground almonds. It can be found at natural food stores and many supermarkets, it ‘s very expensive. You can make your own batch, but because it’s chopped not ground, the texture will be a bit rougher than almond flour and the cookies will have more rustic crunch.
to easily peel the almond: put it in small sauce pan, cover it with water and let boil. Once boiled, remove from heat, get rid off the hot water and cool it with cold water, then skin will peeled off easily once you rub it between your fingers.
If the recipe calls for roasted almond, then spread the peeled almond into one layer in a baking sheet, put it in preheated oven at 300 f, and let toast for 15 min, make sure to stir a couple of times to toast all over perfectly. Let cool completely.
Using food processor, add the almond with 1 tablespoon flour (using 1 tablespoon from flour in the recipe). process until the almond are finely chopped. The addition of flour will act as a buffer and keeps the almond from turning into butter.

almond crescent

Almond Crescent Cookies


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup icing/powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water
  • dash of salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup raw unsalted almonds, peeled, roasted, then finely ground
  • icing/powdered sugar to taste for dusting

1- Cream the butter and sugar.
2- Mix in the orange blossom water followed by the flour and then the roasted cnuts.
3- Chill the plastic wrap dough in the fridge for at least 2 h.

almond crescent 1

4- Shape 1 tablespoon of dough at a time into crescent moons and place them on a baking sheet one inch apart from each other.

5- Bake in a preheated 350F oven until they just start to lightly brown, about 12-15 minutes.

6- Sift the icing sugar over while cookies still warm.

almond crescent 2

almond crescent

بسكويت اللوز

١ كوب زبده بحرارة الغرفه
١/٢ كوب سكر بودره
١ م ص ماء زهر
رشة ملح
٢ كوب طحين
١ كوب لوب مقشر ومحمص ومطحون
سكر بودره للوجه

طريقة اللوز المطحون
نضع اللوز الني بطنجره صغيره ونغمره بالماء ونتركه يغلي
نطفي عليه ونزيل الماء ونبرده بماء بارد
باطراف الاصابع نضغط عليه لنزيل القشور
هذه اسهل طريقه لازالة القشور عن جميع انواع المكسرات
نحمص اللوز المقشر بالفرن طبعا حسب ما تقتضيه الوصفه لان هناك وصفات تتطلب لوز ني
نضعه بصينيه الفرن ونحمصه على ٣٠٠ ف لمدة ١/٤ س ونقلبه عدة مرات ليتحمص من جميع الجوانب ونتركه يبرد تماما
في محضرة الطعام نطحن اللوز مع اضافة ملعقه واحده من الطحين المستعمل للوصفه
سيكون قوامه من ناعم لخشن نوعا ما
اضافة الطحين حتى لا يتحول اللوز عن الطحن الى زبده

لعمل البسكويت
نخفق الزبده والسكر حتى يصبح متل الكريمه نضيف ماء الزهر والطحين والملح واللوز المطحون
نعجنه مع بعض ونغلفه ونحفظه بالتلاجه على الاقل لمدة ٢ س او طوال الليل
نقطع العجين الى قطع بحجم ١ م ك ونشكلها على شكل هلال ونصفها بالصينيه ونضعها بفرن محمى مسبقا على ٣٥٠ ف لمدة تقريبا ١٥ د
نخرجها من الفرن ونضعها بالسكر البودره والبسكويتات دافئه

Semolina Maamoul Cookies


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Maamoul is a  date or nut filled soft buttery cookies enjoyed by all Middle Eastern during religious celebrations, either at Eid El Fitr or Eid Al-Adha and Easter.


Eid El Fitr, is a major muslim feast that marks the end of fasting the whole month of Ramadan. Days before, women start the preparations for Eid that includes a thorough house cleaning, making cookies, and other savory treats. Preparing for Eid also meant that new outfits and shoes had to be purchased for the small children of the family. On the last week of Ramadan, families are busy shopping for the coming Eid celebration. The streets are crowded with shoppers and stores are filled with merchandise.

It is a tradition in Middle East that women gather during the last week of Ramadan to make Maamoul cookies for Eid. Each family has their own Maamoul recipe that pass by from mothers to daughters. For me, It was always a special time when my mom let us set to help her with making and shaping Maamoul. I was always picking the shaping part, guess it was the easiest one. Now, I still making the Maamoul for my family and my kids enjoying the shaping part.

I like to shape my cookies by hand, like the old traditional way. Perhaps, there are many different molds for this sold at Middle Eastern stores, the wooden or plastic one, but by using a special Maamoul clip, a small brass clip with pinked edges, called Malqat, it’s much more fun to see your own decorative patterns on the surface of each cookie.

To make Maamoul you have to manage your time and starts a day before to prepare the dough. The dough must be set a whole day to let the semolina flour time to absorb the butter, which in turn results in a very elastic and soft dough.

You can also make the filling a day a head. Some of the traditional filling is date paste, nuts like pistachio nut filling and pecan filling.


Semolina Maamoul Cookies

  • 1 kilo course semolina flour (it’s sometimes called Farina)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 teaspoon mastic gum
  • 1/3 teaspoon mahleb
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups melted butter
  • 1/4 cup rose water
  • 1/4 cup orange blossom water
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • About 1 cup warm milk

To Prepare The dough:
In a bowl, combine the semolina, all purpose flour. In the coffee grinder, grind the mastic with sugar until powder, then grind the mahleb, add to the semolina and flour.
Mix all together, add the nutmeg and melted butter. Working with your hands, mix the dough until the the semolina flour absorbs all the butter. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest overnight, at least 24 hours.

mamoul dough

The day of baking the cookies:
Add the rose and orange water to the dough. Disolve the yeast with 1 cup of the warm milk, sprinkle over the dough. Work the dough with your fingers until it is smooth.
Add more liquid if need it.
Divide the dough into walnut size balls, place it in the palm of your hand and flatten it with the other palm. Make the filling balls half the size of the dough balls. Place the filling ball in the centre and gather the dough around it. Using the traditional clip, pinch the edges. Make decorative patterns all over the surface by lightly pinching the dough with the clip. Avoid puncturing the dough, or the filling will ooze out during baking. Using the Maamoul mold is more easy and quick.
Preheat the oven to 400 f. Place the pastries on baking sheet and bake until are pale blonde, 10 – 15 minutes. Transfer the pastries to racks to cool.

mamoul 2

Before serving, dust the cookies liberally with powdered sugar by tapping it through a fine mesh sieve.


The cookies once cooled can be stored in rigid airtight containers in the freezer for 3 month, thaw and serve at room temperature. The cookies also can keep at room temp for more than 2 weeks in an airtight container.

Date Filling:

  • 2 pound Medjoul date, pitted
  • 1/4 cup soft butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

To Make the Date Filling:
Combine the dates, butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg, you can use the food processor and pulse until it forms a smooth, thick paste.


If you are making nut filling:

Pistachio filling:

  • 3/4 cup shelled unsalted and roasted pistachio
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon soft butter
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water

Pick over the nuts and remove the shell. Place in a food processor and pulse until they form course crumbs. Add the sugar, melted butter, and orange blossom water, and pulse to form a thick paste.


معمول السميد

١ كيلو سميد خشن
٢ كوب زبده
١/٢ ك طحين
١/٣ م ص مستكه
١/٣ م ص محلب
١/٢ م ص جوز الطيب
١/٤ ك سكر
١/٤ ك ماء زهر
١/٤ ك ماء ورد
١ م ص خميره
١ ك حليب سائل دافي

لكل كيلو سميد له ٢ ك من الزبده او السمنه
وهنا لك حرية الاختيار بين السميد اما يكون سميد خشن لوحده
اوممكن اضافة سميد ناعم بمقدار ٢خشن و١ ناعم
بالنسبه للسمنه ايضا لك الاختيار
احيانا اعمله بسمنه لوحدها وهون استخدم الكريسكو او الغزال او بالزبده لوحدها
نطحن المستكه في مطحنة القهوه مع السكر ونضيفه للسميد
وايضا المحلب نطحنه ونضيفه وايضا الجوز الطيب
كل هذه المقادير يتم عملها وخلطها قبل بيوم على الاقل من عملك للمعمول لانها سوف تنتقع حتى تطرى حبة السميد وتتشرب الدهن

انا من ناحيتي بتركه حسب الفضاوه ممكن يوم او ٢

طريقة الخلط بعد وضع المكونات الاولى للنقع يبس السميد باطرف الاصابع ولا يعجن كطريقة العجين للفطائر حتى لا تتكسر حبات السميد
ملاحظه اذا لاحظت ان السميد تجمد اثناء النقع فلا تقلقي فقط حركيه بملعقه كبيره بخفه بين الحين والاخر

في اليوم التالي
نضيف ١/٤ ك ماء زهر
١/٤ك ماء الورد
ونبسه مره اخرى ونتركه عدة ساعات

نضيف ملعقه صغيره تذوب مع الحليب الدافئ المستخدم للبس النهائي
ويرش على السميد رشات رشات مع استمرار العجن
انا ياخد معي من ١/٢ ك الى ٣/٤ ك ولا تنسي اننا اضفنا ١/٢ ك من الماء زهر والورد
هنا نكون انتهينا من تحضير عجينة السميد

الحشوا ت
التمر :
كيلو تمر منزوع النواه
١/٢ م ص جوز الطيب
١ م ص قرفه
١/٤ كوب زبده لينه
نعجن التمر او نضعه بالخلاط مع باقي المقادير

حشوة الفستق الحلبي:
٣/٤ كوب فستق محمص نيئ
٢ م ك سكر
٢ م ك زبده
١ م ك ماء زهر

فستق حلبي نطحنه جيدا ثم نضيف عليه باقي المقادير ونطحنه مره اخرى حتى نحصل على قوام سميك

حشوة الجوز: جوز نطحنه ناعم قليلا ونضيف قرفه وقطر ويحرك

طريقة الحشي

ناخذ قطعه من السميد مناسبه لحجم القالب المستعمل للطبع ونبسها براحة اليد ونفرده وقطعة من التمر اصغر من عجينة السميد ونكورها ونضعها داخل عجينة السميد ونطبقها ونلفها على شكل كره نضعها بالقالب ونطبعها