Grape molasses is the most fascinating food to come out of Lebanon; I can tell you the exact moment when I became passionately interested in this food: It was when my mom’s old friend, an energetic and sprightly 84-year old gave me some to taste that she had made in her tiny kitchen in her house in the mountains.
It tasted like caramel and had the texture of creamy peanut butter.
I could not believe that this luscious cream was only grape juice boiled down. Mylady (that’s her name, really) told me that what is important is the variety of grape, they need to be very sweet; she also told me that it is important to boil their juice down with some limestone, as it absorbs any sour taste.
Grape molasses is sold in the US in Middle-Eastern stores and through Amazon; however, it is not the best quality; here in Lebanon, I found the best grape molasses in the villages in the Chouf mountains. It is called “whipped”, because in order to obtain that caramel color and sweetness they beat the molasses in the final stages. It is also available made commercially, but I am not sure if it gets exported. I am willing to bet that this food, once it becomes known in the US will catch on and become popular. It is a thousand times better than refined white sugar and can be used in hundreds of ways.
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups farina or cream of wheat
- Dash salt
- 1/2 cup raw brown sugar
- 1/4 cup grape molasses (substitute other molasses)
- 5 ounces grapeseed oil or light olive oil
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 tbsp. dry milk powder (optional)
- 1 teaspoon of mahlab (optional)
- 3/4 cup of water or orange juice
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tbsp orange rind
- 1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup nigella seeds
- Mix flour, farina, dry milk powder, mahlab, salt and baking powder. Beat egg into water or juice. Add sugar and molasses; combine with dry ingredients until dough is moist but not sticky.
- Form 3 inch sticks and dip into the mixture of nigella and sesame seeds. Bake in a 350F oven for 15 minutes or until puffed up a bit and dry on the outside. The cookies will firm up as they cool.