In the previous post, on traveling in Jordan, I mentioned stopping at Anabtawi/Holy Land Sweets in Amman. That’s it pictured above—or, rather, part of it. There were a tremendous number of delightful options on offer, from flaky and honey soaked to crisp and nut covered. The round pans in the photo are the traditional pans in which virtually all Jordanian pastries are baked.
We had the opportunity to sample many sweets, both at the store and elsewhere during our travels. However, though everything was delicious, there was one item that delighted me more than the rest—the rich, crumbly, nutty cookie called barazek. It took a bit of research and a little experimentation, but I came up with a recipe that comes pretty close to replicating what I had in Jordan—even without the round pans and impressive ovens. Enjoy.
1-1/2 cups butter (three sticks)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1-3/4 cups flour
2 cups semolina
1/2 cup unsalted pistachios, chopped
2 cups sesame seeds, toasted
1/3 cup honey
oil, shortening, spray, or whatever you prefer to use to make your cookie sheets non-stick
Grease a couple of cookie sheets. (If you only have one, that’s fine —just takes a bit longer to finish baking all the dough.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the eggs until completely combined. Sift together the baking powder, flour, semolina, and salt. (Alternatively, if you don’t have a sifter, just put the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and use a whisk to blend them thoroughly.) Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture, combining thoroughly.
In a separate bowl, mix together the sesame seeds and honey.
Scoop out a lump of dough that is slightly smaller than a walnut, and roll it into a ball. Dip one side of the dough ball into the chopped pistachios. Put the dough ball, pistachio-side down, on the greased cookie sheet and flatten it into a cookie shape (about 2 inches in diameter). Once you’ve filled the cookie sheet, spread some of the honey/sesame seed mixture over the top of each cookie.
Bake for 12–15 minutes or until golden brown. (It’s wise to start watching closely after 10 minutes, as these can go from golden to charcoal pretty quickly.) Makes 36 to 42 cookies, depending on how big you make them. Once they’ve cooled, put in a cookie tin or other airtight container, to keep them crisp.
Notes: You can buy bags of sesame seeds at most ethnic grocery stores. If you can’t find toasted sesame seeds, you can toast them yourself. Put sesame seeds in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Stir almost constantly (to keep them from burning) until they begin to turn golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes, depending on whether seeds are hulled or unhulled. Cool before using in the recipe.
If your honey is thick and not easy to spread, you can stir a little warm water into the honey/sesame seed mix, to make it more spreadable. Add water slowly, however, as you just want it slightly thinner, not soupy.