Every Spring there is a Middle Eastern food fair at a little church close to my house. I started going to this food fair with my mom and dad while I was in college. I think it was the beginning of my never ending love affair with Middle Eastern food. I could eat hummus on a piece of old leather with no problem!
The food fair includes delicious savory treats like chicken schwarma and falafel. But often the real highlight of the fair are the tables of sweet treats that all the cute little Middle Eastern church ladies must spend weeks making!
My dad and I just went to the food fair last week. It was so good I ate until I felt like I would POP! Hummus, schwarma, baklava, anise cookies. Mmmmmmm. . . .
I made these cookies a few weeks ago and they are close to perfection! Completely a taste I know from that food fair.
I used dates and almonds for my filling. I think walnuts are probably a little more traditional but Tim is allergic so I usually stick with a nut he can eat when I am cooking/baking. I love walnuts but I love him more! 😉
I think the real secret to the perfect flavor is the orange water in the dough. Just a small amount but it makes such a big difference.
These are simple cookies. Just make the dough and the filling and to assemble you just take a ball of dough, press a small dent into the center, add a pinch of the filling and then roll to seal the filling inside. Make the dough ball into the shape of a crescent and place on a baking sheet.
They don’t spread so you can fit a lot on a single cookie sheet.
You need to let these cool completely before coating in powdered sugar. If you don’t you’ll end up with a sticky mess. Not good.
Once they were cool I just took a large ziploc bag and put half the cookies in it with a cup or so of powdered sugar. Then I carefully shook them around in the sugar until well coated.
( I just wrote “toss the cookies” and then realized that sounded bad. . so I changed it for you. . .but it amused me so I had to share it with you anyway. Hehe!)
Flaky and buttery and mildly sweet. I made these for Easter brunch and I secretly just wanted to skip all the other food and concentrate on eating cookies. I thought my family would frown on that though, so I ate brunch food first.
Middle Eastern Inspired Date Crescents
2 cups flour
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
2 sticks butter, room temp
1 Tbsp orange water (you can find this in any Middle Eastern grocery store)
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
1 cup whole dried dates
1/2 cup almonds
powdered sugar for coating
Cut the butter into the flour and 2 Tbsp powdered sugar until there are no large pieces of butter visible and it hold together when pinched. Stir in the orange water and a little milk at a time until a dough forms. It will feel sort of like play dough. Set dough aside.
Put the dates in a food processor and wiz them up for a minute. Add the almonds and pulse until a crumbly paste forms.
Take a Tbsp of dough and form into a ball. Flatten ball slightly and add a small pinch of date puree. Close dough up and shape into a crescent.
Bake on a cookies sheet at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely and toss in powdered sugar. Store in an air tight container. Makes about 25 cookies.