Recipe courtesy of May Yacoubi

Halawet El Jebn (Sweet Cheese Rolls)

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 30 min
  • Active: 15 min
  • Yield: 6 servings



  1. For the syrup, add 2 cups sugar, 1 cup water, the orange flower water and lemon juice to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until thickened, about 20 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the semolina, 1 cup water and the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is thick and bubbly, about 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the mozzarella, breaking it up with your hands as you add it. Continue stirring and pounding with a wooden spatula or spoon until the cheese is completely melted and the mixture is very thick, stretchy and holds together when you lift it from the pan, about 5 minutes.
  4. Oil a clean work surface and pour the semolina mixture onto it. Carefully fold the dough until it cools a bit.
  5. Flatten the dough with an oiled rolling pin and roll out to a thickness of 1/4 inch (6.35 mm). Trim any uneven edges to create a long rectangle with the shorter side closest to you, and set the trimmed pieces aside.
  6. Combine the ricotta and cream cheese in a bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.
  7. With the short side of the rectangle facing you, line the long, right-hand side with half the cheese filling, making a thick, long, narrow strip from top to bottom. Gently lift the edge of the dough, fold it over the filling and continue rolling to the center of the dough rectangle, until the filling is completely enclosed in a long log. (Half the dough should be remaining.)
  8. Slice the log from the remaining dough and cut it into 1-inch pieces. Repeat the filling and rolling process with the remaining dough and cheese filling. Place the cheese roll pieces on a serving platter.
  9. Drizzle with about 4 tablespoons sugar syrup and sprinkle with ground pistachios and ground edible rose petals. Decorate the platter with whole dried rose petals and serve with the remaining sugar syrup on the side.