A spin on the traditional Syrian dessert halawet el jibn, these sweet cheese semolina rolls feature lemon in place of orange blossom and rose waters.
SERVING SIZE: 3 pieces (60 grams)
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
COOKING TIME: 16 to 18 minutes
- 1 cup low-fat cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ⅔ cup (160 milliliters) water
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (20 milliliters) fresh lemon juice, divided
- 1⅔ cup shredded low-moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup semolina flour
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped raw pistachios
- In a small mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, yogurt and lemon zest with a large spoon then place in the refrigerator.
- Place two 18-inch sheets of plastic wrap on a counter side by side.
- In a 2-quart pot over medium heat, make simple syrup by adding sugar and water and stirring until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.
- Pour simple syrup into a 2-cup glass measuring cup, then pour all but ½ cup into a 1-quart pot.
- To the 2-quart pot, add remaining ½ cup simple syrup plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice and bring to a light simmer over medium heat.
- Add mozzarella to the 2-quart pot and stir gently until it forms a soft mass, about 1 minute.
- Add semolina and stir to combine into a dough-like ball for 3 minutes or until temperature reaches 165°F.
- When cool enough to touch, split dough into equal halves and place each in the center of the plastic wrap sheets.
- Cover each ball of dough with a second sheet of equal-sized plastic wrap and press palms onto dough to form an oval. Use a rolling pin to spread each oval into a rectangle, approximately 12-by-7 inches.
- Remove top sheets of plastic wrap and use a butter knife to straighten or trim edges.
- Cut each rectangle in half lengthwise and separate by a few inches.
- Add 5 tablespoons cheese mixture along the long edge of each small rectangle, making sure it is evenly spread the length of the rectangles.
- Pull plastic wrap up on cheese side of rectangle to help form the dough into a roll and overlap excess plastic to keep the shape.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Bring simple syrup to a gentle simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and cook for 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice, stir and simmer for 6 minutes.
- Pour into a small bowl and refrigerate for 25 minutes.
- Unwrap rolls and use a sharp knife to slice them into about 1¼-inch segments (9 pieces per roll).
- Use a wet towel to wipe any excess cheese off the knife between slices.
- Dip one side of each piece into the chopped pistachios and place nut-side-up on a serving plate.
- Finish by drizzling lemon syrup on top.
Cooking note: Rolls can be covered in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to two days. Store syrup separately (drizzle syrup over rolls just before serving).
NUTRITION PER SERVING: 180 calories, 6g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 21mg cholesterol, 183mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 15g sugar, 9g protein, 90mg potassium, 156mg phosphorus