Abbas cookie (Kaak al-Abbas)

dupl kaak EidI have a new-found appreciation for traditions lately; probably because I grew up in a family who pooh-poohed all manner of traditions (or at least my mother did). I asked around Malak and Hossein and other friends and acquaintances what is traditional for the commemoration of Ashura; first of all, huge vats of a wheat and meat (or chicken), called hreesseh, are cooked and distributed to neighbors and relatives; for pastries, these cookies called Abbas cookies as well as the plain sandwich cookies with a couple of pieces of Turkish delight, called raha. These were a childhood favorite for many. Lebanese oreo or s'mores

form a ball and press against moldINGREDIENTS: 40 cookies

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fine semolina (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar diluted in 3/4 cup milk (over the stove); leave 1/4 cup of milk to brush on the cookies after baking them
  • 1 Tbsp rose water
  • 1 Tbsp orange blossom water
  • 1 Tbsp rose water
  • 2 tsp dry instant yeast (proof the yeast in 1/4 cup of warm milk with a teaspoon of sugar till it bubbles up)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Dash salt
  • Spices: 1/2 tsp mahlab, 1 tsp dukkat el-kaak or a mixture of ground anise and fennel seeds; 1/2 tsp turmeric (optional)
  • 4 mastic pebbles, ground in a mortar with a teaspoon of sugar till powdery; 1/2 tsp ginger (optional)
  • 1/4 cup ghee or clarified butter or vegetable shortening

dupl abbas kaak

1. Cool the milk after dissolving the sugar in it. In a stand-in mixer, place the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Add the shortening and mix well; gradually add the milk mixture. If the dough is too wet, add more flour until the dough is firm but moist. Set aside in a lightly greased bowl for a few hours or overnight. 

2. Spray the molds with oil and flour; use an ice-cream scooper and form balls of dough, about 1 3/4 ” in width. Place the dough on the cookie mold and press for it to adhere. Flip it over and press more then with a sharp movement, dislodge the cookie from the mold; bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 15 minutes or until golden-brown. 

NOTE: Malak, whose sister used to make it at home, told me that they would brush the cookies with the sweet milk as soon as they came out of the oven. 

These cookies can also have 1/4 cup of toasted sesame seeds or nigella seeds in the dough; adding semolina to the dough will make them sturdy and rustic.

The turmeric can be added to the milk while the sugar is dissolved in it.

Adding semolina to the dough will give the cookies a rustic, coarse, texture.

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15 Comments

  1. Posted November 14, 2013 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Pretty cookies¨This is a wonderful treat.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. Posted November 14, 2013 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Lovely cookies………..looks yum

  3. Posted November 14, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Love the cookie molds….how fun and beautiful!

  4. Posted November 14, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Your recipe calls for dry yeast but you don’t mention it in the instructions. I assume it is dissolved in the warm milk with the sugar? I ask because it is the yeast in these cookies that intrigues me! I love the flavors and would give these a go!

  5. Joumana
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    @ Jamie: I did dissolve the yeast in the warm milk but half of it did not dissolve; so when I wrote the instructions, I had the yeast included with all the dry ingredients; I will change this, thanks for pointing it out.

  6. Posted November 14, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I love traditions! And these cookies look so cute. I’ll soon be making my grandmother’s recipe for German lebkuchen for the holidays. :-)

  7. Posted November 14, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Those molds are gorgeous, and these just look like every morsel is an experience.

  8. Posted November 18, 2013 at 3:11 am | Permalink

    What a beautiful cookie mold!

  9. Posted November 20, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Cute cookies! Glamorous cookies! The best part: Rose water in it. Lovely!

    Very nice, captivating pictures indeed!

  10. Posted November 29, 2013 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    You always catch me by the heart! Loooove this beautiful cookies, so amazing and yet so simple, as life should be!

    We must pay more attention to traditions and add our new ones too =)

  11. Suzan
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Hi joumana its me again! My mother in law makes these but they come out hard and after a few hours even harder!
    The trick among us is who can make these nice and “soft” its always tricky to get them to the right softness, some people tell me to add much much more shortening to a point that i find it unhealthy ! so my question is : using ur exact recipe above are these soft or not ? Do they get softer if i add more shortening ? Do they become hard after a few hours ? Thx a lot !!

  12. Suzan
    Posted December 7, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Hi joumana its me again! My mother in law makes these but they come out hard and after a few hours even harder!
    The trick among us is who can make these nice and “soft” its always tricky to get them to the right softness, some people tell me to add much much more shortening to a point that i find it unhealthy ! so my question is : using ur exact recipe above are these soft or not ? Do they get softer if i add more shortening ? Do they become hard after a few hours ? Thx a lot !!

  13. Joumana
    Posted December 8, 2013 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    @Suzan: If you are more shortening, they will get denser and heavy, at least that’s my experience with them; I have baked them a few times and still not where I want to be with them; I can suggest another recipe that could be used of korban, these cookies made to be distributed at churches. These cookies are more like soft sweet breads and have almost the same flavorings, but different molds. I’d make them with just a little butter.
    http://www.tasteofbeirut.com/2010/01/qurban-holy-bread/

  14. Kamela
    Posted December 18, 2013 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Hi Joumana, is semoline طحين الفرخة أو السميد الناعم?

  15. Joumana
    Posted December 19, 2013 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    @Kamela: semolina is both smeed and ferkha; in this case, smeed na3em and ferkha would be the same thing; smeed is usually a coarser grade of semolina and ferkha is the finer grade.

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