My love affair with Layali Lubnan began when I was 10 years old. My mother brought me along with her to a bridal shower, and to be honest the endless conversations and gift opening of fine china bored me to tears. However, the lavish dessert table I eyed in the corner of the room redeemed the whole afternoon. Trays of baklava, semolina date cookies, chocolate kisses and sesame anise cookies lined the whole table covered with white lace. Layali Lubnan prominently occupied the center of the dessert spread–a heavenly looking white custard adorned with chopped pistachios.
I had never tried this dessert before, but one of the guests who came from Lebanon made the treat for all of us try for the first time. Layali Lubnan literally means “Lebanese Nights” in Arabic, one of the most popular desserts originating from Lebanon. At that age I pondered the name: ‘Are real Lebanese nights filled with white clouds? Are the pistachios supposed to be colorful stars lighting up a foggy evening?” My curiosity escalated to the point where I asked my mother if I could have a piece before lunch. She miraculously said yes, as she could sense my boredom (remember there were no iPads then). So I took a piece, sat down, and fell in love at first bite. The dessert had two distinct layers, a creamy semolina custard on the bottom, and an fluffy whipped cream layer on the top. The chopped pistachios added a nice crunchy contrast in texture and color, and the whole confection was draped with a lemony rose sugar syrup. As I put the spoon to my mouth I literally smelled the mild fragrance of roses. I felt sophisticated eating Layali Lubnan as a child, and now as an adult, I serve this fancy dessert to the people I love. And now, I share this recipe with you in this easy tutorial, my latest video:
Shelled roasted pistachios