Lebanese sweets are divided into many categories that range from pastries to cookies to cakes but most of them share a lot of ingredients as well as the skills required for their production. Butter and sugar as well as flour or semolina are present in almost all of them.
Even though all categories share a lot of ingredients, if you zoom into each category and examine the different products it is made of, you will find that items in the same class share even more of their ingredients. Actually, most of the items inside each category are almost made from the same ingredients and differ only in one or two or in the amounts used in them. For example, most cookies like Maamoul in all its forms and varieties as well as Karabij are made from the same ingredients. Cakes such as Sfouf and Nammoura are also made mainly from semolina and share about eighty percent of their ingredients. Most Lebanese sweets are thus close in taste and are full of nuts and heavy on butter.
To start with the category of cakes, the most two famous Lebanese cakes are Nammoura and Sfouf. If you are not from Lebanon, you might call the former Basbousa instead. This name is widely used in many countries around the Middle East. Both of these cakes along with other ones are primarily made of semolina and sugar. In addition, they do also contain butter and yeast. Even though they share all these ingredients, the differ in couple others but they also taste extremely different because Nammoura contains very large amounts of sugar in the form of syrup and is thus very moist while Sfouf contains no syrup and is on the contrary very dry.
When it comes to cookies, almost all of them use semolina as their main ingredient in the dough. This is true for Maamoul in all its versions as well as for Karabij. These Lebanese sweets also include a lot of nuts and dates. The versions with nuts include pistachios or walnuts used primarily in the filling. Yeast and butter is added to the dough also and sugar is added to the filling. Counting this list of ingredients one finds that it is made of a very small number of items compared to other more complex desserts. What differentiates these cookies and cakes from most other Lebanese sweets is that they are made from semolina. This is what gives them their special taste not encountered in Lebanese pastries.
Lebanese sweets include the most important pastries known in the Middle East, and this collection is called assorted Baklava. These pastries are all made from flour dough even though this exists in two different versions: phyllo dough and Knafeh dough. The dough in both its forms is made from flour and water but each version is made in a very different manner. Besides the dough, the filling is made from nuts and sugar. Many types of nuts can be used. The pastry is also heavy in butter.