Grape molasses sticks (Kaak)

 

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. 

debs-el-enab

INGREDIENTS:

  • 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

METHOD:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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22 Comments

  1. Posted March 24, 2013 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    Grape molasses looks completely luscious! I’d love to try some.

  2. Posted March 24, 2013 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    I need grape molasses in my life.

  3. Posted March 24, 2013 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    I agree with leaf…

  4. Posted March 24, 2013 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Delicious! Those Lebanese biscotti look and sound fantastic. A wonderful teatime treat.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  5. Posted March 24, 2013 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    This looks amazing! I’ve never heard of grape molasses – growing up I always saw my dad’s family (who are Iraqi) eating a lot of silan (date molasses), is it similar?

  6. Posted March 24, 2013 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Joumana, these make perfect snacks! Love the ingredients of these sticks, mahlab and orange rind must give them a wonderful flavor! I love grape molasses in Winter! It gives you a great energy! We combine it with tahini to balance its sweetness. We also use it when making simit(Turkish kind of bagel) to give it a nice color.

  7. Posted March 24, 2013 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    I bought grape molasses because of you… time to use it. What a fun recipe!

  8. Posted March 24, 2013 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    I can see why you would drool over grape molasses – sounds just fantastic!

    And what a great snack these would make – I just know my hubby would adore these!

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  9. Joumana
    Posted March 24, 2013 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    @ahu: It is similar in that it is used as a natural sweetener; although date molasses is definitely sweeter. Grape molasses has a tiny bit of tanginess to it.

  10. Sylvia
    Posted March 24, 2013 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Even cookies get dressed for Easter, I will definitely make these, It will surely delight my guests Saturday night.
    This is a classic taste of Lebanon.

  11. Posted March 25, 2013 at 3:04 am | Permalink

    I feel like I need to go out and find some limestone now…

  12. Posted March 25, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    I haven’t had the pleasure of tasting grape molasses. But your description sounds incredible! We have a Lebanese shop near by that I can go see if they stock it. Thanks for sharing:)

  13. Posted March 25, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    I tried pomegranate molasses and was hooked. Why not grape! GREG

  14. Posted March 26, 2013 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    The list of ingredients sound so delicious, Joumana. Add your beautiful photos and I would love to have a taste. The more seeds the better in my world :)

  15. Elena
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Joumana , what do you mean – farina or cream of wheat?
    I’ve never heard of such products. Where to find them?

  16. Joumana
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    @Elena: cream of wheat is sold in the US (and North America) as a breakfast cereal; it is semolina flour ground coarse. I can find out more by googling it if you mean more precision. Where are you located Elena?

  17. Elena
    Posted March 29, 2013 at 1:37 am | Permalink

    God, how I’m stupid! I understand what is it. This is a fine ground semolina.
    So , i can replace it with amaranth four , that I really like, or with coarsely grounded semolina.
    I have a Turkish pekmez ( grape molasses) – so I can prepare this wonderful cookies.

  18. Elena
    Posted March 30, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Joumana, thank you for inspiration! I prepared today this cookies. They smell and taste absolutely amazing. But I made more “healthy” version – 1/4 cup of agave syrup and 2 tbsp of erythritol ( sugar substitute) , grapeseeds oil, and as a farina source I used Semola Rimacinata. Since I haven’t found sesame seed in my stocks, I sprinkled them with the flax seeds .

  19. Joumana
    Posted March 30, 2013 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    @Elena: thanks for updating me! I love it when I post recipe it is always with the idea to inspire and motivate rather than having someone do the exact recipe, so I am so glad you made your own version!

  20. s
    Posted April 1, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    i would love to get my hands on this – love all these ingredients from your part of the world. x s

  21. Hagit
    Posted April 5, 2013 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    They look great and healthier from those I see in the our local arabic pastry shop in my country. I can’t find farina/cream of wheat here (Israel) what is the best substitute ?

  22. Hagit
    Posted April 5, 2013 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    I just read it.. farina= coarse semolina flour.. tks anyway

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