Updated: May 2, 2021
Israel is a melting pot of people from countries all over the world, so when you walk into a bakery or the local shuk, you will see desserts that are inspired by people from all over.
Kanafe has always been a classic middle eastern delicacy, but it’s recently made a big comeback as a popular “fast-food” treat in Tel Aviv and the Jerusalem shuk (open-air market)! It’s made of phyllo dough soaked in sweet, sugar syrup, layered with cheese, and sprinkled with ground pistachios. It even has rose water in there somewhere and is best eaten HOT!
You would never know (unless you know) that halva and tahini are made of the same ingredient - sesame seeds! Halva is the Arabic word for sweetness. It comes in over 100 flavors from cookies and cream to pistachio, chocolate, caramel, and many more. This crumbly dessert also comes in string form that melts in your mouth kind of like cotton candy.
Rugelah is the perfect cross between a cookie and a cake. It's like a cinnamon roll but filled with the perfect amount of chocolate mixture. Whether you like them gooey or cakier, rugelah is a staple dessert in Israel. Israeli bakery Marzipan is famous for its gooey, melt-in-your-mouth chocolatey rugelah.
Dates require no baking or preparation and are delicious (and healthy) any time of day. Dates are one of the seven species of foods that are native to the land of Israel and grow wild here! If you’re looking to add a little kick to dates, freeze them, and when you’re ready to eat them, open it up, take out the pit and put a pecan inside.
If you want to get really extravagant (but actually, it’s really easy) open a date, take out the pit, fill it with natural peanut butter and some peanuts for crunch, freeze it until the peanut butter is hardened. Then dip it in melted dark chocolate and put it back in the freezer. Pop one out wherever you're craving something sweet!
Have you have heard of rose water? Did you know that you can use it in desserts? Malabi (don't you love the way that word rolls off your tongue?) is a surprisingly light and delicious treat. It's a creamy, milk pudding base topped with rosewater syrup, crushed pistachios, and coconut. It's not your classic hot chocolate cake - but it's divine.