Mahlab powder 10g
Mahlab is an aromatic spice made from the seeds of a species of cherry. The cherry stones are cracked to extract the seed kernel. It is used in small quantities to sharpen sweet foods. Greek and middle eastern cuisines use it in most of their sweets and recipes.
When mahlab first hits your tongue it tastes a bit like cherries, a bit like roses, and a bit like almonds. There's a hint of vanilla and something quite floral. Its aftertaste, though, is quite bitter. When cooked, everything changes. It's fruity and rich, but subtle. It's a regal spice that adds majesty to sweets, an excellent mystery ingredient that contributes a whole palette of flavours without dominating an end result.
How Do You Use It?
Though it has some savoury applications (coming to a lamb tagine near you!
), mahlab is mostly a baking spice,
used in pastries and breads from Greece to Iraq. It's common in a Greek sweet bread traditionally baked for Easter called tsoureki
, though it's also common during Christmas baking. A teaspoon per cup of flour is often added to cookies, cakes, or rolled pastries of those areas.
Dairy pairs well with mahlab,
either in the form of milk of cheese. It's a spice crying out to be used in rice pudding, which is often scented with almond and rosewater. Its fruitiness would make a welcome addition to crème brûlée, or anywhere else that fruit chunks or juice just wouldn't do. Or sprinkle some in a cheese-based tart, preferably one with lots of honey and butter.
I've been noshing on a snack based on an Egyptian dessert composed of two parts ground sesame seeds, two parts honey, one part extra virgin olive oil, and just enough mahlab to make its presence known. This thick, floral paste would be ideal to roll into a pastry like rugelach—but by the time I got the willpower to stop eating it with a spoon, I had barely enough to stuff one small pastry. Honey and mahlab are also best of friends, as are other complex sweet ingredients like dried fruit or nuts.