Mahleb or Mahlab is an aromatic spice made from the seeds of a species of cherry, Prunus mahaleb (the Mahaleb or St Lucie 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, and similar also to marzipan.
Mahleb is used in small quantities to sharpen sweet foods and cakes.
It has been used for centuries in the Middle East and the surrounding areas as a flavoring for baked goods. Recipes calling for the fruit or seed of the “ḫalub” date back to ancient Sumer. In recent decades, it has been slowly entering mainstream cookbooks in English.