I get sentimental about Valentine’s Day. It’s one of the only holidays I get excited about. And when someone is as anti-everything as I am, it’s probably good to be sappy about something, even if it’s silly and corporate. That’s what I keep telling myself anyways. What I find strange is I dislike almost every aspect of public romance, but here I am, planning out a Valentine’s Day dessert. Seriously, I can’t even with my brain.
Here is an easy, yet seems kind of fancy, dessert recipe from the barren, sandy nothingness that is my ancestral homeland… the Middle East. Romantic, right? Hope you enjoy!
Labneh is a thick and creamy delicious yogurt cheese that is typically served as part of an Arabic style breakfast spread. It’s usually topped with olive oil and sometimes fresh herbs, sumac, or za’atar. You can find it at Middle Eastern grocery stores and well stocked natural foods markets (usually in the cheese section, not the yogurt aisle). Apparently, you can also order it on Amazon. My goodness, what can’t you get on Amazon?
For the more hands-on folks, it can also be made at home. Some instructions I’ve seen on the net call for simply straining Greek yogurt overnight. I find that to work in a pinch, but labneh has it’s own distinct flavor. Jenny at the Nourished Kitchen concluded that it’s the probiotic strain matsoni that gives it its distinct pleasant tang; she also gives thorough instructions. So by all means, if you wanna go crazy and make your own yogurt, get to it and report back to me. And if you want to be really authentic, make it with sheep’s milk. I heart sheep’s milk.
While you are at the Middle Eastern market, pick up some cardamom and rosewater. I have found that rosewater varies in strength by brand, so I would suggest starting with a teaspoon and tasting from there, because we don’t want the dish to taste like perfume. Just a delicate rose flavor that enhances the tang of of the yogurt.
I realize that we all have our sweet preferences, so I’ve kept the honey in this recipe to a minimum. I’m huge proponent of tasting as you work and adjusting as needed. You can also drizzle the dessert with more honey to give it a little more sweetness.
The fun part of this dessert is the presentation. I like to dollop it onto small saucers and then throw nuts and rose petals at it. Take a pic of your dessert and show me on Instagram or Facebook. By the way, it’s Facebook’s fault this recipe exists as it won in a “what dessert should I make” poll. The people are clamoring for labneh. I plan to do a few savory recipes in the future.
Honeyed Rosewater Labneh with Cardamom and Crushed Pistachio
- Mix labneh with honey, rosewater, and cardamom. Taste and adjust as needed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Plate your honeyed and spiced labneh and garnish with crushed pistachios, dried rose petals, and mint. Drizzle with additional honey if extra sweetness is desired.
- This stores well in the fridge. Makes a decadent breakfast as well.
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