HANAN EL KHATIB
PASSION FOR DESSERT
Captured by The Recipe Hunters in Lebanon
Hanan El Khatib is a website developer with a Passion for Dessert. During the week you can find her behind a computer screen, but once Friday evening comes, Hanan will be found in her kitchen, baking away. Hanan loved baking so much that she decided to start her own baking company called, "Passion for Dessert!" Hanan focuses on baking healthier versions of international desserts.
How did you develop your passion for dessert?
"It began with my mom. She would always bake cakes for birthday parties and celebrations and I would always want to help. I loved the whole process of it, from mixing the ingredients to decorating the cakes. When I got older and began studying computer science in university, I would still rush home after school and bake. To this day, baking is my favorite hobby, it's my passion. The fact that others can enjoy what I love to do best, makes it even better! Now I bake cakes, cookies, and cupcakes with a special twist; I bake them as healthy and as tasty as can be.
I first began to visit Souk El Tayeb as a customer, and I remember thinking to myself, 'I would love to sell some of my baked treats here!' Then the idea turned into a reality after setting up my own stand and making my own brand.
If you have a full time job, how do you find time to bake?
"I love coming home on a Friday night and baking after work. I bake sitting down from about 8 pm until 1 or 2 in the morning so that all my desserts are fresh for the Souk el Tayeb on Saturday morning. After only a few hours of sleep, I arrive at the Souk el Tayeb invigorated to have my happy customers await me! There is a reason I stay up to 2 am baking for the Souk because if it weren’t fun, I wouldn't do it! To bake is not just throwing ingredients together it's more about giving each ingredient it's proper care. I love baking! Recently we purchased a pizza oven so I am now able to use both my pizza and my conventional oven, which makes my baking a lot faster. Instead of going to sleep earlier, I can now bake more desserts!!"
Do you make food with love or know someone that does ?
How did you develop your recipes?
"I always measure my ingredients first and preheat the oven so I am fully ready. The most important thing is the preparation and oven temperature. When I first began baking seriously, I built off of my mother's recipes. After doing a lot of research and experiments, I discovered how to modify my recipes to create the same flavors I wanted but with less sugar and fat. I started to mix, add and experiment based upon feel and taste. I would replace some white flour with wheat flour, vanilla sugar with vanilla extract, and butter with oil. For my chocolate chip cookies I made sure to use better quality flour, brown sugar and high quality chocolate. I not only experiment with the recipes, but with the methods of mixing. I don’t stop until I believe I have mastered each recipe. Now, my mom only eats my desserts and refuses to bake herself!"
Do you have fun when you bake?
"I always have fun when I bake and I like to include my daughter and husband too, its like a family activity! My husband Chady is the taster and I engage my daughter as much as possible. I bought my daughter a mini ice cream scooper to scoop her own cookies and when she had her first tooth I celebrated by shaping the sugar cookies into teeth.
Do you have any funny stories of mistakes you have made?
"One time I tripled a cookie recipe to cook for the Souk el Tayeb and I forgot to add sugar. I looked inside the oven and thought that my cookies looked sick. They didn't expand or grow. Since my husband, Chady is my taster he tasted them and immediately knew I forgot the sugar."
Why not just buy muffins at Starbucks?
"I went to Starbucks, bought a muffin and I couldn't take a second bite. I thought to myself, how could products like this exist right outside of the Souk! If you have ever tried homemade chocolate chip cookies, muffins, or cake you would agree that it’s not worth all the calories, not to taste absolutely amazing. I knew that I could make better quality products because I care about giving my desserts the real taste!"
What does the Souk el Tayeb mean to you?
"The Souk el Tayeb changed my life. The souk gave me the opportunity to show people what I can do and love to do. It helped me develop my passion for healthier versions of desserts while connecting me to people. To help some diabetic people enjoy desserts with less sugar or with sugar free items makes me so happy."
What are your cooking tools of choice?
"I love the ice cream scooper, the whisk, and the pastry spoon."