Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Enjoy Lebanese Sweets but don't read the nutrition label

We've had several versions of baklava over the years.  Most of them have come from Turkey or local bakeries however for the second time we were presented with some from Lebanon. One of our colleagues hails from there though we like to tease him that he is really from Detroit because he has a brother in Macomb, Michigan. An acquaintance of his who is doing a rotation here at the hospital brought them as a gift. That was nice!
A gift from a visiting colleague!

Made in Lebanon!

Most of the time the baklava that we get is the usual type that is presumably baked and cut on a sheet.  The box usually contains that single type which is made of the mille feuilles type dough laid in multiple layers, sweetened with sugar syrup or honey and then flavored with some crushed nuts.   The Lebanese are more creative however.  Instead of a single kind the box contains many different varieties some resembling the classic version but most being of different shapes and sizes with various flavorings or fillings.  In this respect one must give the Lebanese the nod for imagination.  Perhaps we should just call these Lebanese petits fours or mini-pastries because it does take baklava to a different level.
Nice selection to be sure!

When you open the box there is a nicely displayed selection.  Several were rolled dough with a nut filling. Others were sandwich like with the bread part of the "sandwich" being kataifi.  Aren't you impressed that we know that name? It's because we saw it on a menu the day before and had to look it up. How random that the next day it showed up in this box of sweets so that we can identify it and thereby show how knowledgeable we are! As you can see from the pictures the Lebanese don't skimp on their nuts!  The small ones that look a little like egg rolls were very good. They were a phyllo dough with a crushed peanut filling.  The sandwiches were also very good with a nice chunky pistachio filling.  The other two rolls were a bit on the dry side. The filling was better than the shell but they were worth the try.
A pistachio sandwich with kataifi!

A sampling of each seemed in order!

Still lots to choose from!
We thought we had tried everything when we realized there was a second layer with different types.  So we had to try a few of those. The slightly rounded ones on the left of the picture that were again phyllo type dough with a nut filling on the bottom were also very good.  The traditional baklava like pieces were also fine. Lastly there was a batch that were sliced like brownies and consisted of a thin cake like dough soaked in syrup and a thin filling of nut paste.  One of our Turkish colleagues, no chauvinist she, felt that these were superior to what she is familiar with because they were not as sweet and more interesting.
But wait, there's a second layer!

The final choice. If you had one of each you're done eating for the day!
Given such a nice selection we were happy to try as many as we could.  Although these were made in Lebanon the box had the usual American nutrition label on it.  We made the mistake of reading that label.  A serving constituted two pieces which contained 290 calories. Say what?  For those who tried six to eight we are now talking about a full days caloric requirement. Uh oh! No wonder the pieces are relatively small. Any larger and a two-piece serving would be 500 calories.  We generally tend to be unconcerned about calories but within reason.  This was a bit unreasonable.  The next time we will read the label first and plan accordingly!

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