Description: Mahlepi is a fragrant spice made from the husked kernels of wild black sour cherries that grow on St. Lucie cherry trees; the tree grows wild in the Mediterranean region. The tear-shaped kernels, light tan outside and creamy white inside, are best bought whole and ground in a coffee grinder, as an already-ground mahlepi will have lost much of its flavor and aroma. The floral and almond-like smell of mahlepi reminds many of marzipan; the flavor combines a rosewater-like sweetness with almond
Regional Use: The spice is popular in Turkey, Greece, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and Libya, among other countries. It’s used especially to sharpen sweet foods and baked goods. In Greece, it’s used in egg-rich yeast cakes and cookies such as Christmas vasilopita and Easter tsoureki, and in Turkey it’s used for pogaa (a focaccia-like savory bread). Egyptians powder the mahlepi and make it into a paste with honey, sesame, and nuts, and then eat it as a dessert or a snack with bread.
Pair With: butter, honey, milk-based puddings, pastry dough, pistachios, and walnuts