Sesame Brittle from Bethlehem

George Hazboun also known as ‘George the Egyptian ‘ has been known for his profession of making sweets in the city of Bethlehem tirelessly for the past 25 years. At George’s shop, which lies about 200 meters from the Church of the Nativity, some of George’s famous sweets include manfouche and Qaddoum, as well as sesame brittle, also known as semsmeyye.

On a typical day, George enjoys showing the passersby the way he makes his sweets without any additives and proudly points to the fact that all his pastries are organic and without preservatives.

Let’s take a look at how he makes his semsmeyye or sesame brittle, the Middle Eastern way.


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1 cup raw sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of rose water
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda


  1. Put the sugar, honey, salt, nutmeg, and water into a small, thick-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and stir until it forms a thick liquid. Stir in the raw sesame seeds.
  2. Keep heating the mixture, stirring often, until the mixture turns an amber caramel color, about 5 to 10 minutes. At this point, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the rose water and the butter. Once the butter has completely melted into the mixture, stir in the baking soda.
  3. Pour the mixture out onto a baking sheet.  Let cool (about 15-20 minutes). Break into pieces and serve!