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About this recipe: These Middle Eastern shortbread pastries are traditionally filled with nuts or dried fruit. This recipe will give you the option to make walnut, pistachio or date filled pastries. NOTE: The biscuit dough will not be a firm dough, it will be damp and slightly crumbly, but will hold together in the mould.


Serves: 20 

  • For the nut version
  • 140g finely chopped walnuts or pistachios
  • 2 tablespoons orange or rose water
  • 4 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • For the date version
  • 250g chopped dates
  • 125g butter
  • For the biscuits
  • 125g margarine
  • 125g butter
  • 125g plain flour
  • 320g semolina
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
  • 100ml water
  • walnut, pistachio or date filling
  • icing sugar, for dusting

Prep:1hr  ›  Cook:12min  ›  Extra time:8hr resting  ›  Ready in:9hr12min 

    To make the biscuit dough:

  1. Melt margarine and butter together. Cool slightly. Mix flour, semolina, salt, baking powder and sugar together. Rub melted butter into flour with fingertips, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Cover bowl and let rest overnight.
  2. To make the nut filling:

  3. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.
  4. To make the date filling:

  5. Cook dates with butter over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Mash occasionally, until dates are completely pureed. Let cool.
  6. To make the biscuit dough:

  7. Combine rose water, orange blossom water with 100ml water. Sprinkle over the biscuit crumble dough. Toss lightly with a fork to distribute liquid evenly. Mix until just combined to form a damp and crumbly dough.
  8. Dust shaped biscuit moulds with flour. Invert and tap gently to remove excess flour. Estimate the amount of dough needed to fill the mould and form a ball. Flatten out slightly and place 1 heaped tablespoon filling into the centre. Close dough around filling to cover it. Pack ball into the mould. Level off dough even with the lip of the mould. (Make sure the filling is fully encased with the biscuit dough).
  9. Tap biscuits out of the moulds with a sharp firm hit. Transfer biscuits to a baking tray with a spatula.
  10. Bake at 160 C / Gas 2 1/2 for about 12 minutes, until barely coloured. Cool and sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.

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