Today I’m blogging about a Middle Eastern recipe I learned from my mom. This recipe is for cookies called Kaak Bi Haleeb, or literally, milk cookies. I’m sure there are many different recipes around but this is the one we grew up with. These are not like your typical American cookies. There’s no chocolate or icing, just basic ingredients that combine to form a great coffee/tea dipping cookie. We love these and eat them as a dessert and if we’re on the go, as breakfast (I know. I know. Not the healthiest breakfast 🙂 ).
The recipe I have included makes a large batch, around 100 cookies. So make sure you have a friend nearby. My mom and I make these together sometimes – having someone around to chat with not only helps you finish up faster but helps pass the time (watching a movie does the trick too).
***Also, this might be a great activity to do with kids who are old enough to handle raw dough. We’ve made these before with my cousins who shaped dough pieces into their initials/names – they had a blast doing it and got to eat their names afterwards!***
All of the ingredients used are basic, on-hand ingredients except for one. The only unique ingredient is Mahlab. The Mahlab seeds come from the inside of the St Lucie Cherry stone and are then ground to form the Mahlab spice. This spice is used in various Middle Eastern recipes. You should be able to find it at a Middle Eastern or international store. As always, give the store a call before you go in to ensure availability (I hate wasted trips).
One last thing – if this recipe is too large for you to do (especially for the first time), you can just halve the recipe and use 4c + 2 T flour, 1 1/4 c sugar, 1/2 T yeast, etc….
RECIPE & INGREDIENTS
8 1/4 c flour (I used homeground flour but you can use store bought flour just as well)
2 1/2 c sugar
1 T yeast
1 tsp baking soda
1 T mahlab (ground)
2 sticks butter, cut into chunks
1 c milk
3 eggs, beaten
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Cut in butter with hands.
Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and knead with hands to incorporate. If dough is too dry, add 1/4 c milk.
Mahlab seeds before grinding
Mahlab seeds after grinding – now in powder form
Form dough into even chunks. You want each piece or chunk to be about 2-3″ in diameter. The baked cookie will be about 3-4″ in diameter.
Roll each chunk/ball into a long strand (about the thickness of your pinky)
Fold loop so the ends are together
Join ends together and press with finger to seal
*Note: My dough has a slightly rough texture. If you use regular store-bought flour, your cookies will have a smoother, elastic look/feel.
Place on greased baking sheets
Bake at 415F for 13 minutes. Broil on high for 1 minute. This process is a bit tedious. The goal is to have a nice golden color but not burn the tops. Baking first cooks the dough while broiling makes the top a nice golden color. Just make sure that the cookies are golden on top and golden on bottom before you remove. If they cook faster, don’t worry – just take them out.