Friday, December 22, 2006


My mother-in-law generally makes these middle eastern cookies around Christmas each year. They are interesting because they are made using a special wooden mold and they are filled with a nut mixture.  It is a great cookie to have with a cup of coffee or tea.

Adapted from the Syrian-Lebanese Cook Book

1 lb unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp whiskey
1 egg
1 tsp. ground mahlab (middle eastern cookie spice)
1 cup farina
4-5 cups flour

1 1/4 lbs. walnuts, ground
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. mazahar (orange flower water)

Mix the 3 filling ingredients well and set aside.

Whip the butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar, whiskey, egg, mahlab, and farina while mixing. Gradually add flour while mixing and kneading until enough has been added to make good dough, not too soft, not too firm.  Take a walnut-sized piece of dough and flatten in the palm of your hand.  Add a teaspoon of dough to the center and wrap the dough around it and roll in your hands to seal.  Press ball into mold gently.  Firmly whack the mold on a cutting board or sheet pan had enough to get the cookie to fall out.  Repeat with additional cookies.  Bake at 350 degrees until bottom is light brown.  Sprinkle cooled cookies with powdered sugar before serving.

If not using a mold, pinch off small balls of dough (walnut size). In the palm of your hand make a hollow in the ball. Place 1 tsp of the nut filling in the hollow and close opening. Use a fork to decorate much like a peanut butter cookie. Bake at 350 degrees until bottom is light brown. Sprinkle tops with powdered sugar before serving.

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