Some cookies have the power to take you to distant lands with one bite. Whenever I travel to other countries, I love to visit their local bakeries, where I can experience the taste, smells, and traditions of that particular culture. Usually on the last day of my trip, I like to buy a little box of sweets to take home with me–the last taste of that country that I share with family. Middle Eastern sweet shops are filled with sensorial experiences: baklava dripping with nuts and honey, shredded filo layers filled with custard or cheese, buttery semolina shortbreads, and….barazek. Barazek cookies have elements of baklava, shortbread, and biscotti all in one. The base is a buttery crispy cookie, painted generously with honey, then dipped into salty pistachios on one side, and nutty sesame seeds on the other.. The result is an overload of taste and texture–sweet, salty, crispy, crumbly, and nutty all in one bite.
While these addictive cookies originated in Turkey, they can be found all over the Levant, (Jordan, Syria, Palestine, and Lebanon) where people enthusiastically dunk them into strong cups of tea. On my last trip to the Middle East, I made sure to stock up on these cookies in my carry on baggage. The flight attendants even became my friends after I gave them a sample. After I was down to my last cookie I knew I had to recreate these at home, so that I could continue to share this taste of the Middle East with friends and family–especially around the holidays. These cookies are meant to be thin and crispy, but if you prefer chewy cookies just make them thicker. As for the pistachios, you can use salted, or unsalted depending on your taste preference. The unexpected benefit of making these at home is you can create a kid-friendly cookie assembly station. One can use the cookie cutters, one can paint on the honey, and one can dip it in the nuts. There’s my sister’s hand helping out with the cookies, though she is too camera shy to appear in my videos:
So why not give these cookies a try this Valentine’s Day? Would love to hear your feedback if you try them. Here is a how-to video of these delights, to get you started 🙂