Mahlab is an aromatic spice made from the seeds of a species of cherry, Prunus mahaleb (the St Lucie cherry, aka the Mahaleb cherry). The cherry stones are cracked to extract the seed kernel, which is about 5 mm diameter, soft and chewy on extraction. The seed kernel is ground to a powder before use. Its flavour is similar to a combination of bitter almond and cherry. It is used in small quantities to sharpen sweet foods.It has been used for centuries in the Middle East and the surrounding areas as a flavoring for baked goods. In Greek American cooking, it is the characteristic flavoring of Christmas cake and pastry recipes.
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