Isn’t it funny how a certain smell, flavor or image can conjure up a world of memories?
Somehow it is never the elaborate recipes or the fancy meals, it is a bowl of soup in your mum’s kitchen on a cold day, a cup of peach icetea across the table from a dear friend, a fresh loaf of bread from your grandmother’s oven, the cookies you made for your kids’ class and stayed up till 2 in the morning decorating and packing them, the salad you made for your best friend and forgot the parsley.
I can bet you remember each and every detail surrounding those recipes, the time of day, how cold or warm it was, how you felt, maybe even what you were wearing, the sounds, the smells, everything. Every little detail is vividly stored in your memory and easily manages to bring a smile to your face or draw a tear..
The recipe I am sharing with you today is one of mine! I can never make, smell, eat or even see these cookies without smiling at the memory of my late grandmother. If you were to cross paths with 7 year old me, you would know that I refused to call these cookies anything but “kaak tita” which means grandam’s cookies. I would refuse to try them if anyone else made them! (and after all these years and after trying at least a dozen recipes in an attempt to recreate her cookies, no one else’s cookies come close to hers)
My grandmother was a hard working ,strong woman who is fondly remembered by everyone who knew her. I see these cookies and I am transported to her kitchen, I can hear her singing as she prepares the ingredients (she always sang when she made gifts for her loved ones). I can close my eyes and feel the heat of the oven on my skin as I watch her baking batch after batch of these cookies, the sweet smell slowly taking over the house.I can vividly remember biting into my first cookie -after impatiently waiting for it to cool- the crust crackles and crumbles revealing the date center, with just the right amount of sweetness and a hint of spice.
When you go through the recipe you’ll know that these are simple rustic cookies yet they are genuinely addictive. They are a perfect example of how sometimes simple recipes are the best way to allow ingredients to shine.
These cookies are called Kaak asawerكعك اساور which means bracelet cookies, or kaak bi ajwa which means date paste filled cookies. They are quite popular in Palestine, a staple in Eid along side maamoul and barazek.
It took me years to get this recipe right, my mum and aunts make a fancier, refined version of these cookies with milk ,butter, seeds and spices added to the dough. Now don’t get me wrong, their cookies taste heavenly but they are not kaak tita. If you are looking for a richer date cookie, you can try my mum’s maamoul or my go to flour date cookie or baid al qata. But if you’re like me and you have fond memories of these cookies, try this recipe, I promise it will not disappoint!
Palestinian date cookies
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
3 teaspoons anise seeds
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 cup water (see notes)
For the date filling
500 g date paste (if you can’t find date paste and want to use dates, check out the notes)
1 tablespoon ghee or olive oil
1 tablespoon anise seeds
1 tablespoon cinnamon (add more if you like it)
1 teaspoon cardamom
- Prepare the filling by kneading all the ingredients together. If your date paste is slightly stiff, you can warm it slightly in the microwave or on the stove top
- Divide the date filling into walnut sized balls and roll each into a rope, set aside
- Prepare the dough:In a bowl add the flour, cardamom and anise seeds
- Add the oil and rub it into the flour with your finger tips
at this stage it will look like wet sand
- Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the water and add slowly while kneading gently till the dough comes together
- Don’t over work the dough because we don’t want to develop gluten, we just want the dough to come together and be homogenous
- Start working with the dough immediately, no need to allow it to double
- Divide the dough into egg sized balls
- Roll each into a rope
- Flatten the dough and make sure to roll it out really thinly . If the dough is thick your cookies will be chewy as opposed to crisp
- Place the date filling on top of the dough, make sure it is at least 1 cm shorter than the dough
- Seal the dough around the filling by pinching its edges.
- Form the dough into a loop , overlap the edges and use your finger tips to make an indentation to seal the edges together
- Bake in the center of a very hot oven till the bottoms are golden brown then turn on the broiler till the tops are golden brown.
- Take out of the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes then move to a cooling rack to cool completely
- If you can’t find date paste, you can use any soft dates that you like. Simply remove the pits and knead the dates with the rest of the filling ingredients. It will take a little longer but you should eventually get to a firm sticky dough consistency.
- The amount of water that you’ll need for the dough will differ with the type of flour that you use and with the humidity on the particular day that you make the cookies. Just add the water slowly and knead gently till you get a dough ball that looks like the one in the picture
الكعك الفلسطيني بالتمر
3 كوب طحين متعدد الاستعمالات
1/2 ملعقه صغيره هيل مطحون
3 ملاعق صغيره يانسون حب
3/4 كوب زيت نباتي
3 ملاعق صغيره سكر
1 ملعقه صغيره خميره فوريه
1/2 كوب ماء
500 غرام تمر عجوه
1 ملعقه كبيره سمنه
1 ملعقه كبيره يانسون حب
1 ملعقه كبيره قرفه
1 ملعقه صغيره هيل
نحضر الحشوه بعجن التمر مع السمنه و البهارات ثم نقسمه الى كرات بحجم حبه الجوز ثم نرقها لتصبح على شكل حبل
نحضر العجين بخلط الطحين و بذور اليانسون و الهيل في وعاء
نضيف الزيت و نفركه باطراف اصابعنا حتى يمتصه الطحين تماما
نذيب السكر و الخميره في الماء و نضيفه للطحين تديجيا مع العجن حتى يتماسك العجين..ليس هدفنا هنا الحصول على عجينه ملساء كعجينه المعجنات بل الهدف الحصول على عجينه متماسكه و متجانسه كما ترون في الصور في الاعلى
نقطع العجين الى كرات بحجم البيضه و نرق كلا منها على شكل حبل
باستخدام شوبك العجين نقوم بفرد العجين و نحرص على ان تكون رقيقه لانها لو كانت سميكه فلن يكون الكعك مقرمشا
نضع الحشوه على العجين و نغلق العجين حولها
نشكل العجين المحشو على شكل دائره بحيث تنطبق نهايتها على بدايتها و نستخدم اطراف اصابعنا لنحدث طبعه تمسك طرفي العجين معا
نخبز الكعك في وسط فرن محمى الى اعلى درجه حتى يتحمر القاع ثم نضعها تحت الشوايه حتى تتحمر من الاعلى
نخرجها من الفرن و نتركها لتبرد 10 دقائق على الصينيه ثم ننقلها لرف التبريد