Iraqi date cookies called Kleicha are considered to be the national cookie of Iraq. Iraq is one of the top three producers of dates in the world. This is a traditional recipe and there are many variations. The dough comes out like a puff pastry and the cookie reminded me of nazook, which was one of my favorite desserts from Armenia. This recipe is pretty quick and easy and if you have any left you can freeze them. They are pretty darn tempting though right out of the oven. We enjoyed them with hot cup of black tea. A perfect ending to our Iraqi meal.
Iraqi Date Cookies (Kleicha)
- For the dough:
- 3 cups flour
- 1 cup milk warmed
- 1 cup butter melted
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground mahlab
- 2 tsp yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp black nigella seeds
- For the date filling:
- 2 cups dried dates. seeded
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp powdered cardamom
- 1 Tbsp ghee
- 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds optional
- 1 egg beaten, for brushing
- To make the date paste, heat the ghee in a pan or pot, add the fennel seeds and the cardamom and the dates. Stir often until the dates soften.
- Add the sesame seeds (if using) and stir to incorporate. Set aside to cool enough to handle.
- To make the dough, stir the the flour, mahlab, salt, and nigella seeds to equally distribute.
- Whisk the yeast and sugar in half a cup of the warmed milk, set aside for 5 minutes to activate the yeast.
- Pour the yeast-milk mixture, and the remaining half cup of warm milk, and the melted butter over the flour mixture. Knead for 5 minutes. Let rest and rise for 20-30 minutes.
- Alternatively, blitz everything in a food processor and knead in the nigella seeds manually.
- Roll out the dough into a large rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.
- Place the date paste between two large parchment sheets or clean plastic sheets and roll out to about the same dimensions of your rectangular rolled dough.
- Remove the top sheet from the rolled date paste, then invert over the dough. Peel off the other sheet.
- Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, then roll each half from the middle long side into two long rods.
- Flatten each rod slightly, brush the surface with egg wash, then cut the rods into 1/2 inch pieces.
- Place, seam-side down on a baking sheet.
- Bake in a preheated 360F oven for 15 minutes, then broil to a golden brown for a minute or two.
- Delicious straight out of the oven, with a hot cup of tea.