The Holy month of Ramadan is coming to an end, and most Muslims are preparing for Eid El Fitr (Eid is the Arabic word for a holiday). Fasting for Muslims during Ramadan is abstaining from eating any food and drinking any liquid from dawn to sunset for a total of 30 days. And after 30 days comes the Eid and its wonderful celebrations.
In the Palestinian culture, as in many other cultures and also as Americans do during the holidays is baking cookies. So Palestinian Muslims are getting ready to welcome the Eid, and few days prior to that people start preparing by baking the special cookies for this holiday which is ka’ek el Eid. Ka’ek is a word that refers to more of a rounded shapes cookie.
There are different variations of ka’ek, some make it with semolina, some by mixing semolina with flour. However, today I’m sharing one of the simplest and easiest recipes, and it can be done anytime and not necessarily just for the holiday. This recipe is vegan too. I love those cookies and enjoy eating them along with my coffee.
So here is how to make anise dates cookies:
The common shape of these cookies is rounded, which can be a bit of time-consuming to make. So, if you are in a hurry you can choose whatever simple shape that is easier. A straight shape that can be cut into smaller pieces can also work fine. However, since it’s the holiday I think it’s nicer to have the rounded shape as I indicated above and I believe is more festive.
Start by preparing the dates, one certainly can use regular dates, however, it’ll be more time consuming to take the pits and the stems out of each date and mix them into a paste. So the paste is already available at all stores that sell Middle Eastern produce. It'll be easier to have the dates past ready prior to starting making the cookies, I mean by that making it into small pieces to be ready for stuffing it into the dough. So the paste is a bit sticky and in order to make it easier to work with, rub hands with some olive oil, then take a small piece and roll it into a log, continue this process until all paste is done. Set aside.
For making the dough, mix all ingredients together, starting with flour, oil, anise powder, anise seeds, baking powder, and sugar, then gradually add the water and mix until dough is ready to work with.
On a clean surface, take a handful piece of the dough, and roll it into a long thin log, about as big as your pinkie. Flatten the log after cutting as if you are making space to add the date paste, bring a piece of the previously rolled dates about the same size as the flattened dough, place on top of the dough, then close the dough around the dates, and roll it into a rounded shape. Continue the process until all dough and dates are done.
No need to spray sheet because the dough includes oil already. Once the tray is full place in a pre-heated 370 F degrees oven and bakes for about 25-30 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown.
Once cooled off cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to a week. Also, it can be stored in a zip bag in the freezer for a couple of months. Cookies stay fresher that way if not consumed within a week's time.
Makes 40-45 cookies
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup oil (½ vegetable and ½ extra virgin olive oil)
- 2 teaspoons anise seeds
- 2 teaspoons anise powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ cup of sugar
- ¾ cup of warm water
- 1 to 1.5 bags of Zyad dates paste (about 1.5 cups).
- Preheat the oven to 370 degrees F
- Take small pieces of the dates paste and with rub, your hands with some olive oil, roll the dates into small logs. Continue this process until all bag is done. Set aside
- Mix all dry ingredients together: flour, anise seeds, anise powder, baking powder, sugar then add oil. Integrate everything all well together with the oil.
- Add warm water gradually, and knead the mix together until it is more like a dough.
- On a clean surface, take a handful of dough, and roll it into a long thin log, about as big as your pinkie. Flatten the log after cutting as if you are making space to add the date paste, bring a piece of the previously rolled dates about the same size as the flattened dough, place on top of the dough, then close the dough around the dates, and roll it into a rounded shape. Continue the process until all dough and dates are done.
- Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the bottom turns golden brown.