Libyan Basbousa (dessert) Recipe

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Libyan Basbousa (dessert)

From Dorothy McNett's recipes at A wonderful sweet African dessert from Libya, Egypt, and other northern African areas. Interestingly, when I was in New Zealand on a culinary trip years ago, a similar version was served. Some use the rose water, others do not. It is simply a matter of taste. Sometimes sherry or port will be used!

for the syrup:
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup raw sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon bottled rose water, optional

for the cake:
1 tablespoon olive oil or melted butter, for greasing the pan
3 cups semolina flour
3 cups raw sugar
3/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
almond halves
3 tablespoons melted butter for drizzling over the cake

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the water, sugar and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Once sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring for 5 minutes, or until it reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat, stir in the rose water if using, and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, bake the cake. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a pastry brush, spread the olive oil over the bottom and sides of 8 by 12 inch baking pan.
In batter bowl, combine semolina and sugar. Stirring constantly, add the water a little at a time, stirring. It will be stiff and dry, you may need to use your hands to get the water mixed in. Blend in the melted butter. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly. With a sharp knife, make diamond shaped cuts about 2 inches wide and 1/2 inch deep. Press an almond half into the center of each diamond. Drizzle and brush with the remaining 3 tablespoons melted butter. Bake 50-60 minutes or until it is firm to the touch and nicely browned. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle the cooled syrup over the top, using only as much as the cake will absorb without being soggy. Cool to room temperature and serve!

Recipe created 2011-04-03.

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