My Egyptian voyage of culinary discovery continues - after the delicious Taamias (Egyptian falafel) and amazingly simple but tasty Aish Baladi (flatbread), it was time to try a dessert - a date-filled biscuit called Kahk. This made the Madhouse kids laugh because they instantly thought of the French word for poo, "caca", often shortened to "cac". Apologies to any Egyptian readers and I've no doubt the pronnciation isn't the same anyway !
This required one ingredient from this month's Egyptian-themed Kitchen Trotter kit, a box of date paste. It's quite firm with a taste of dried dates. It can be eaten straight from the pack or used as a filling for these biscuits.
200g date paste
25g vanilla flavoured sugar
to serve : icing sugar
Mix together the flour and sugar. (Pierre is sulking in this picture because he wanted to stir !)
Melt the butter in a saucepan - that's quite a scary amount of butter, in my opinion !
Pour the melted butter into the flour and stir with a wooden spoon. Mix in the water and keep stirring to create a nice elasticky dough..
Leave to rest for 5 minutes. I was a bit concerned about how wet it was but it does sort itself out.
In the meantime, chop the date paste into about 15 pieces and roll them between your hands to make balls.
It's actually quite hard work so we left it at just smoothing off the corners. "Hey, it looks like camel poo, from the camel on the box", giggled a now smiling Pierre !
Roll out the dough on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin. It needs to be a few millimetres thick.
Cut out circles with a large cookie cutter.
Holding the dough circle in your hand, pop a piece of date paste inside and fold over, sealing it by carefully pressing all the edges shut. (I didn't really worry about sealing them too much and some of them popped open in the oven.)
Place them on an oiled baking tray and put them in the oven at 180° for 20 minutes. Leave to cool and sprinkle with icing sugar.
I tasted one still warm out of the oven and found it quite bland. The date flavour did come through more when they were cold but I still thought they were lacking a bit of oomph. I had a look around online and found a recipe on The Egyptian Kitchen blog which mentions using traditional spices in the cookie mix - mahlab (the seed of a sour cherry pit) and Rehet-al-Kahk, which is a blend of fennel seeds, anise seeds and mahlab. I'm sure that would make all the difference so I might try adding cinnamon and allspice or mace (I'll have a look through my spice rack !) to try perking them up next time. I also want one of the amazing cookie moulds used on the Egyptian Kitchen blog too - they're very nifty !
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