Israel has made great strides in the numbers of patisseries and boulangeries that have opened here, and many of the top pastry chefs have honed their craft abroad, but is there such a thing as a real Israeli dessert? We asked chefs from 12 leading restaurants to describe their most Israeli desserts. Taste and decide for yourself.
The dessert: olive oil sable, blood orange crème, ginger crème, tapioca tuile, buttermilk foam, rose petals and hibiscus dust, olive oil and white chocolate ice cream.
Pastry chef Hila Perry: “The olive oil is Israeli, as is the citrus – the blood orange – that surrounds it. And the buttermilk always reminds me of that childhood treat, Daniela whipped pudding, in its best form.”
Herbert Samuel in Herzliya (kosher):
The dessert: Mount Bracha tahini. Tahini sorbet, espresso granite, sesame tuile.
Pastry chef Shlomi Palensya: “We wanted something Israeli that would fit the rules of kashrut and also appeal to tourists. We started with a tahini sorbet then we thought ‘What would make it more interesting?’ So we made a sesame tuile and added coffee granite, and it immediately became one of our signature dishes.”
The dessert: Israeli cheesecake with black olives, strawberries and yogurt sorbet
Pastry chef Yossi Sheetrit: “This cheesecake is something you can find in any Israeli household, except that we’ve added a little twist. The flavors are very Israeli: cheese, olives and olive oil.”
The dessert: mille-feuille of filo, olive oil and almonds with a filling of malabi cream, sugared orange peel, rahat lokum (Turkish delight) and caramelized apricots in saffron, thyme and arak syrup.
Chef Eyal Lavie and pastry chef Moshe Mishaeli: “The idea originated with the thought of combining two beloved dishes – malabi and mille-feuille. We built a dessert with Israeli-Mediterranean elements, starting with the filo dough with olive oil and thyme, and we added apricots that are glazed with vanilla arak, and dripped some basil oil onto the plate too.”
Yafo Tel Aviv:
The dessert: Yafo-Tel Aviv knaffe. Knaffe balls, citrus consommé, olive oil ice cream and caramelized apricots
Pastry chef Tali Yekutieli: “We roll the kadaif into balls and fill them with cheese. The balls swim in a clear consommé of orange flower water and rose marmalade. It’s a quest for contrasts – crispy and soft, or sweet and tart, as with the olive oil ice cream.”
The dessert: Halawet El-Geben. Arab cheese, semolina, pistachio, honey.
Chef Yusuf Hana: “This is based on a dessert that is known throughout the Middle East, especially in Syria and Lebanon. It was invented hundreds of years ago and is not well known at all in Israel, in Arab or Israeli cuisine, so I decided to give it my own personal interpretation.”
The dessert: pumpkin, poppy seed jelly, grape leaves filled with almond cream, eggplant crackers and olive oil seasoned with vanilla.
Chef Aviv Moshe and pastry chef Meir Alaluf: “We made tehini dust and colored it black. We made the eggplant into sweet crackers and added vanilla olive oil cream. We cooked cherry tomatoes with anise and ground them into a sauce.”
Ein Gev Fish Restaurant:
The dessert: Homage to Kadishman. Halvah foam in arak with hayani dates
Chef Uzi Ben: “The inspiration is Kadishman and his monument in Habima Square. I started sketching something out and decided to use ingredients from our region like dates from the Jordan Valley and Ayala arak in a tuile with anise seeds.”
David & Joseph:
The dessert: Pandora’s box. Toffee on a bed of chocolate, crème brulee of cardamom and citrus with a fudge cube wrapped in caramel, with chocolate foam.
Pastry chef Adrian Shaingurten: “The dessert was first created in 2009 at the Deca restaurant in Tel Aviv, and since then I’ve taken it to every restaurant I’ve worked in. In its present incarnation, it’s taken on the Mediterranean touch that our customers want, with cumin and cardamom.”
The dessert: yogurt ice cream, thyme caramel, olive oil, season fruits and hyssop parfait.
Chef Orel Kimchi and pastry chef Dana Hatav: “The desert came from a meal I did three years ago, as part of one of many desserts, in a relatively unknown restaurant in Chicago. They used olive oil in that dessert and the idea of it stayed with me. Here I decided to take that small part and make it the centerpiece.”
The dessert: panna cotta of Israeli tahini, sorbet of cherries from the Golan Heights, apricot sauce and sesame crumble.
Pastry chef Eran Schwarzbard: “The restaurant is very Mediterranean-Israeli and one of chef Sharon Cohen’s principles is to use local ingredients, one of which is the tahini. So we made it into a cream and combined it with a sesame crumble, fruit from the Golan Heights that we made into a sorbet, yogurt cream with honey and nougat that comes like a caramel cookie with sesame and tahini.”
La Regence, King David Hotel:
The dessert: Pink Lady au gratin with caramel sable and apple sorbet
Chef David Biton and pastry chef Oran Hayo: “I really love apples and started playing with the idea of baked apples and leccino olive oil, which has a very fruity flavor, and then it all came together – the textures that we added to the caramelized apples, and adding to that the flaky dough made with olive oil instead of butter, and then we also added the sorbet and the fruit.”