Rachel Lambert: forager, author, guide

Magnolia Spiced Bliss Balls recipe

Plate of fresh, homemade bliss balls spiced with magnolia petals

This recipe for easy-to-make bliss balls is spiced with magnolia petals. The flavours of roasted, bitter, spiced and sweet in these bliss balls make them very moreish. They have gone down a treat whenever I've shared them with friends and at events.

I share more about using magnolia petals as a wild food in my blog; Wild Food: Magnolia Petals.

Firstly a story, well two stories actually.

Where this recipe came from

The first story is about this recipe, which I came across while looking for sweet Palestinian dishes to take to a New Year's Eve party. It looked fun, authentic and I had all the ingredients already at home. The author, Sawsan from Chef in diguise, tells how these bliss balls, known as Bsaisital Kharob are actually an ancient recipe that's been used for hundreds of years.

These bliss balls, were traditionally made as 'journey food' as they keep well when travelling. They actually taste better after the flavours have infused for a few days - I can vouch for that! I love using traditional recipes, they tell so much about a culture and a people.

Sharing food is an essential way to share resources, love, conversation and time. I share this recipe with thoughts and love for Palestine, as well as all the other 38 countries currently at war across the world.

How best to pick magnolia petals

The second story comes from via my mum, those friend called her, upset about someone's magnolia picking tactics. My mum's friend, let's call her Carla, had come across someone foraging with around one hundred magnolia buds in her basket from one tree. Carla was concerned for the tree, she also wanted to enjoy the flowers in full flower and wasn't impressed.

I wasn't there. I don't know how big the tree was, though I do know that this recipe works perfectly with petals that have just fallen or are about to fall. No need to pick the buds and you still get your spiced flavour!

A fresh magnolia leaf for salad

What do magnolia petals taste like?

It depends on the variety and not all are tasty or edible. My friends and colleagues Kim Walker lists twelve magnolia varieties and their tastes, and Robin Harford lists nine known edible magnolia varieties.

Freshly fallen magnolia petals can be gingery, and more so when pickled. As with all fresh compared to dried herbs, the flavours will differ. I find my magnolia spice a little gingery, and, reminiscent of nutmeg. Perfect for sweet spicing up!

How to dry magnolia petals to use as spice

You can use fallen magnolia petals. You don't need to pick fresh ones. Even ones that have started to go a little brown are fine to use. Magnolia petals can be air dried in a warm place or in a dehydrator. They will naturally turn brown.

Plate of fresh, homemade bliss balls spiced with magnolia petals

Magnolia spiced bliss balls recipe

These unusual sweets are nutritious, moreish and based on a traditional Palestinian recipe called Bsaisital Kharob. The magnolia adds a nutmeg flavour and an added layer of depth and spice.

Makes 40


  • 125g/ 1 cup roasted wholemeal flour* (I use stoneground rye)
  • 75g/1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds**
  • 50g/3 heaped tbsp carob powder
  • 2 tbsp dried and ground magnolia petals
  • 80ml/1/3 cup molasses
  • 80ml/1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

*Toasting your flour makes it safe to eat raw and gives a wonderful deep, roasted, nutty flavour. It takes 5 mins in a 175C/350F/gas mark 4 oven. Spread 250g or 2 cups of flour evenly over a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.

**I toast these over a medium heat in a heavy bottomed frying pan until golden and smell toasted. Allow to cool before using and store in an airtight container.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients before adding the wet. Blend well with a wooden spoon or with clean hands. The mixture will be a bit moist. Break off pieces and roll into balls about 3cm/1.5inch in diameter. Store in an airtight container and enjoy as a snack or as part of a dessert.

2 comments on “Magnolia Spiced Bliss Balls recipe”

  1. […] Like any ingredient, these recipes are just the beginning. If you start to experiment with magnolia you will discover the right amounts that you prefer and will be able to explore the full potential of this food source. Ru Kenton (London Wild Fruits) has even made wine from the petals and a sorbet paired with melon! Or here's my latest wild magnolia spiced bliss balls recipe. […]

  2. I am really glad that you enjoyed the recipe Rachel!
    I love having a box of these around to share with friends or to sneak into the kids' lunchboxes.
    Thank you kindly for the shoutout and for looking for Palestinian recipes in the first place

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