Feast Cookies with Honey Filling


Honey Filling
-In a saucepan over medium heat, heat clarified butter. Add flour and sesame seeds and cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes or until golden. Add honey and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until thickened. (Do not overcook, or honey will harden.) Remove pan from heat. Stir in rose water and nuts, if desired. Let cool.
-Shape honey mixture into small hazelnut-size balls. Set aside.

-Dissolve yeast and sugar in 1/2 cup of the warm water and let stand for 5 minutes, or until foamy.
-In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat clarified butter until very hot, but not burned. Sift flour, Kahk essence, and salt into large bowl. Sprinkle in sesame seeds. Add butter mixture, stirring constantly to cool.
-Add yeast mixture and the remaining 1 1/2 cups water. Knead by hand 20 minutes, or until dough is smooth and well combined.
-Cover bowl with kitchen towel and let dough rise for at least 3 hours (or preferably overnight).
-Shape dough into walnut-size balls. Press thumb into balls to make cups. Fill cups with balls of honey mixture. Mold dough over filling, pressing seams to seal. Roll into balls, then press lightly into discs. Place discs well apart on a baking sheet. Using a serrated pastry crimper (Monaash), press a sun ray pattern into the top of each disc (see photo above). Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for 45 minutes.
-Preheat oven to 180 ˚C (350˚F).
-Bake for 25 minutes, or until light golden.
-Let cool. Dust cookies with generous amount of icing sugar before serving.



Honey Filling
3 tablespoons clarified butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 cup honey
1 teaspoon rose water
1/2 cup ground nuts (optional)

1 tablespoon active yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 cups warm water
2 cups clarified butter
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Kahk essence (ground *Mahlab anise, fennel)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Icing sugar, for garnish

*Mahlab: Often used in the traditional Arabian feast cookies, this popular spice comes from a black cherry stone and has a distinctive almond like flavor with a slight sour taste.
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