Swirl date cookies

These cookies are another one of my mum’s speciality recipes. They happen to be one of my all time favorite cookies. They are crunchy, not too sweet, easy to make, they can last for a long time (if you can keep your hands off them) and they make for a wonderful gift .

What more can you ask for from a cookie?

A lovely memory that makes you smile whenever you make them.

As you may already know, I used to help mum with the prep work for recipes and in this particular one that meant I was in charge of pitting the dates. When mum made these cookies, she would make triple or even  four times the recipe provided here. I would easily find myself face to face with 1-2 kg of dates to pit

If you have never pitted dates I can tell you this much, you are getting yourself into one sticky situation (and believe me sticky is an understatement). At first, you will be on top of things, getting the pits out with little or no effort. Your fingers are slightly sticky but you hardly notice. Then slowly, the sweet sticky flesh of the dates starts sticking to your fingertips, next your fingers start sticking together and your productivity is down by at least 50%  because you spend more time removing sticky dates from your fingers or washing your hands every 5 minutes than you do removing pits. Then at long last you finish, and it is cookie time and the smell of the first patch of cookies makes you forget the sticky mess you were in.

I bite into one of these cookies and I am a kid again, in my mum’s kitchen, waiting for the first cookies to cool enough to eat without burning the top of my mouth. Mum is smiling, the kitchen is warm and smells of cinnamon and cardamom fill the air.  Worries, to do lists, are not  in my vocabulary yet. Life is simple and sweet.

I know some of you will read the recipe and go: what?! fried cookie?!No way!

Trust me, you won’t be able to tell this was fried. The dough is so thin that it hardly absorbs any oil. The frying only helps cook the dough and make it crunchy. If in doubt,humor me and try half a patch and I am sure you will be in love with the first bite.If you don’t you will be missing out BIG TIME.

Swirl date cookies

2 cups flour

2 cups semolina

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground anise

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup oil

1 cup water

For the dates

I used 200-250 grams of pitted dates

To add flavor to the date you can add, all, any or a combination of the following

Cinnamon

cardamom

Nigella seeds

sesame seeds

The amounts are really up to your preference and how pronounced you want the flavor to be but I wouldn’t go above 2/3 teaspoon of each

Whisk your flour, salt, anise and semolina in a bowl

Add the oil and rub it in with your fingertip until it is absorbed fully

Add the water gradually  and knead gently (don’t over work it ) until the mixture comes together (you may not need all the water )

As you can see you only want the dough to come together, it won’t be a soft ball of dough as in pastry or bread

Divide mix in half, form each half into a roll and then wrap it and allow to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes

In the mean time knead the pitted dates with the spices and seeds if using

Take one roll out and cut it into 1 to 1.5 cm slices

Roll each slice into a circle

Take a piece of date and roll it between two sheets of  oiled  parchment or simply press it between the palms of your hands until it is thin and flat

Place the date circle on top of the dough one

Roll the dough

seal the edges (the date will burn if it touches the oil uncovered)

Heat the oil in a pot until the oil bubbles around a little ball of dough as soon as it is dropped in

Add one roll at a time wait a couple of minutes then add another

Don’t do more than 4-5 or the oil will become cold causing the rolls to absorb too much oil

When the rolls are golden brown take them out of the oil and onto some kitchen towels to absorb any excess oil

Cut each roll into three pieces using a sharp knife on the diagonal

I am submitting this post to Sugar Free Sundays a wonderful potluck  to exchange incredible sugar free recipes to inspire everyone to start the week right!

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