Cookies - Baking recipes

This week I felt like baking light, airy cookies with creamy fillings. They are my favorite treat to enjoy with coffee. They also last a long time – up to two weeks.

Baking cookies (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Baking cookies
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
What could be better on a cold, rainy day than a hot mug of your favorite drink and some yummy cookies?
This week I felt like baking light, airy cookies with creamy fillings. They are my favorite treat to enjoy with coffee. They also last a long time – up to two weeks – that is, until your family members realize how tasty they are, and they disappear.
I love to prepare three or four different types of cookies all at once and then store them on the counter top in clear glass containers so that every time someone walks by they can see all their wonderful choices at a glance.
Recently, my family has been requesting old-style cookies like my mother used to make. Many of these require the use of a hand-held meat grinder to prepare these super-crispy, melt-in-your-mouth delights.
This week, I’ve chosen three recipes to share with you, my faithful readers: Ma’amoul date-filled cookies, Rahat Lokum cookies and Alfajures.
Since it’s so hard to find butter in stores these days, you can swap it for margarine, coconut oil or canola oil. Just remember that 100 g. butter = 85 ml. oil.
Tipascale
for those of you trying to eat healthier
Anytime a recipe calls for flour, you can substitute a portion of whole wheat flour instead. Sometimes, though, you’ll need to add more liquid.
If you’d like to prepare gluten-free cookies, you are welcome to substitute gluten-free flour in place of regular flour. Just be aware that you might need to add up to 30% more liquid.
If you’d like to use a sugar-free substitute in place of sugar, you should use the same amount as listed in the recipe.
MAAMOUL DATE-FILLED COOKIES
These crispy cookies, which are very popular in Egyptian, Kurdish, Iraqi and Turkish cuisine, are filled with dates and covered with powdered sugar. They usually have a different shape than cookies filled with nut cream.
Makes 22-24 cookies.
Dough:
2 cups flour, sifted
1 packet baking powder
¼ cup warm water
100 g. butter or margarine
¼ cup oil
¼ tsp. vanilla extract or a few drops of rosewater
Filling:
150 g. crushed dates
2 tsp. canola oil
Topping:
½ cup powdered sugar
To prepare the dough, add the flour and baking powder to a large bowl and mix. In a separate bowl, stir the butter (or margarine) with the warm water until it’s completely mixed. Add the oil, rosewater or vanilla and mix well.
Form a well in the flour and add the butter mixture in the middle. Knead until soft. Do not over-knead. Keep in the fridge for one hour.
To prepare the filling, mix the dates well with the oil.
Roll the dough into 22 small balls. Form a small dent in the middle of each ball with your finger and fill it with the date filling. Close the dough around the filling and roll into a ball shape again.
Flatten the balls a little on the baking tray. Using small tongs, make light marks around the edge of each cookie. The powdered sugar will coagulate in these indentations.
Arrange the cookies on a baking sheet with space in between each one. Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180°C (355°F) for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle half of the powdered sugar on the cookies. After they’ve cooled down, sprinkle with the second half of the powdered sugar.
Level of difficulty: Medium.
Time: 2 hours.
Status: Dairy or pareve.

Tipascale
You can add crushed walnuts or hazelnuts, orange peel or cinnamon to the date filling.
RAHAT LOKUM (TURKISH DELIGHT) COOKIES
Makes 30-32 pieces.
150 g. butter or margarine
1 Tbsp. canola oil
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
2 packets vanilla sugar
2 cups flour, sifted
¼ to ½ cup water (or more if needed)
5-6 slices of red, pink or white rahat lokum
Topping:
½ cup powdered sugar
In a mixer, blend the butter with the oil, powdered sugar and vanilla sugar. Gradually add the flour and water and mix until the dough falls away from the side of the bowl. Alternatively, you can mix by hand. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for an hour.
Cut the rahat lokum into 32 or 33 slices and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Place on a serving tray.
Flour your work surface and split the dough into 2 sections. Roll out one section until it’s ½-cm. thick. Cut out small triangles. On the wide end of each triangle, place a slice of rahat lokum and roll it up. Prepare all of the triangles in the same fashion.
Arrange the cookies on a baking tray covered with baking paper and bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180°C for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and let cool.
Level of difficulty: Medium.
Time: 2 hours.
Status: Dairy or pareve.

ALFAJORES DULCE DE LECHE COOKIES
These sandwich cookies that are filled with milk jam and covered with coconut flakes are extremely popular in Argentina. You can bake the cookies ahead of time and store them in your freezer. The milk jam can be kept in the fridge.
Makes 30 cookies.
200 g. butter at room temperature
2 eggs
½ cup sugar
1¾ cups cornflour
1¹⁄3 cups flour, sifted
1 packet baking powder
Milk jam:
4½ cups milk
1½ cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. quality vanilla extract
½ cup milk
2 Tbsp. cornflour
1 tsp. butter
Topping:
100 g. coconut flakes
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the eggs and sugar and mix until smooth. Add the cornflour, flour and baking powder. Continue mixing until dough becomes soft.
Sprinkle some flour on your work surface and roll out the dough. Cut out circles using a cookie cutter with a diameter of 3-4 cm.
Place the cookies on a tray covered with baking paper and bake for six minutes in an oven that has been preheated to 180°C. Cookies should remain white in color. Let them cool.
Pour the milk into a pot and add the sugar. Cook over a low flame for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the baking soda and vanilla and mix well. In a small bowl, mix the cornflour with ½ cup of milk that is leftover. Pour into the milk and sugar mixture and stir. The mixture should thicken within a few minutes. Add the butter and stir. Let cool.
Place half of the cookies with the smooth, flat side facing up. Add one teaspoon of milk jam to the cookies and then cover with the other cookies. Melt two teaspoons of milk jam and mix well. Pour the coconut flakes in a separate bowl.
Take each “sandwich” and roll it first in the warm milk jam and then in the coconut flakes.
Level of difficulty: Medium.
Time: 2.5 hours.
Status: Dairy.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.
Tipascale
for those who are in a hurry…
If you don’t feel like preparing the milk jam, you can buy a jar of ready-made cream.