From The Italian Doctor's Proposal
Noor's cookies

  • 500g plain flour
  • 250g ghee (less 1/2 a tablespoon for the filling!)
  • 1/2 heaped teaspoon of active dried yeast (dissolved in a little warm water and 1/2 teaspoon sugar, left to ferment)
  • 125ml warm water

Filling:

  • 125 ml honey
  • 1/2 heaped tablespoon plain flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon ghee
  • 50g sesame seeds
  • 75g walnut pieces (chopped down a little more)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

To make the filling:

Heat the ghee in a non-stick pan until it's bubbling, take it off the heat and stir in the flour.

When the flour's incorporated, add the honey, put back over the heat and stir until it boils and thickens.

Take it off the heat again, add the sesame seeds and walnut pieecs, then leave to cool while you make the dough.

To make the dough:

Put the flour in a large bowl.

Heat the ghee in a pan until it's bubbling, then pour it over the flour and stir it in until it's completely incorporated.

Dissolve the yeast in warm water with the sugar and leave to ferment.

Add the warm water to the ghee-and-flour mixture, mix in, then knead the dough until it's warm and not hot.

Add the yeast, knead until smooth and then cover with a cloth.

The filling should now be cool enough to handle (and very sticky!). Make the filling into little balls (about a teaspoon each - should be about 15 and a little more for you to taste…).

Break the dough into fifteen pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, make an indentation in the middle and bury the filling inside, making sure the filling's covered. Flatten the balls slightly and crimp the edges.

Place the cakes on a non-stick baking tray lined with tinfoil, leaving plenty of room between them, and bake them for 15-20 minutes until golden.

Cool (do not be tempted to try them straight out of the oven - the filling will burn you) and dust with icing sugar.

Ghee

If you can't find ghee or clarified butter in your supermarket, you can make the traditional 'samna balady' as follows:

Heat 1 kilo of butter with 1 tbs salt in a heavy pan. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time. When you start to see a heavy precipitate at the bottom, take the pan off the heat and pour the contents very carefully into a bowl (making sure none of the precipitate comes out with it) and leave to harden.


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