Called baqsum in Arabic, these sesame biscotti filled with dates are crunchy on the outside, with a softer sweet interior. Lightly sweetened, with hints of cardamom, these treats are a perfect pairing for tea and coffee. —Candice
If your dates are soft, you’ll be able to mush them by hand with no problem. If your dates are dry, you'll need to work them a bit more.
For dry dates: place the dates in a frying pan and add a bit of oil. (Depending on how dry the dates are, you’ll need 2 tablespoons to a quarter cup of oil. Start with less and add more as needed.) Heat the dates and oil at a low-medium temperature, slowly mashing them together. Continue to mash the dates until they come together into a thick sticky paste.
Rub about a teaspoon of oil on the countertop or a baking mat. (The oil keeps the dates from sticking to the surface.) As you work with the dates, you may want to spread a bit of oil on your hands as well. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dates, about 1/2 inch thick.
Sprinkle cardamom, sesame seeds, and walnuts over the rolled out dates. Press the nuts and spice into the dates, so that they stick. Roll the date sheet, so that the nuts are folded in, and the sheet now resembles a log. Fold the date log into a ball, thoroughly mixing the dates with the sesame seeds, walnuts, and cardamom.
Roll the date sheet again, to about 1/2 inch thickness. Cut the sheet into 1/4 inch strips. You should get about 12. Roll each strip into a thin rope, and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Pour the milk in a shallow bowl. Pour the sesame seeds into another bowl.
In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cardamom.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs for a few minutes until fluffy. Add vanilla. Add the dry ingredients, and mix until a dough forms. Cover the dough so that it doesn’t dry out as you begin to make the biscotti.
From the large ball of dough, remove about a 2-inch ball of dough, and roll it out to 1/4 inch thickness. Roll the dough long (hotdog vs hamburger) to accommodate the date rope. Place one of the date ropes on top of the rolled out dough. Wrap the dough around the dates. You want only one layer of dough wrapped around the dates, so remove any excess dough as you roll. If some of the date log sticks out from the ends, cut it and set aside. You may need it to fill some gaps in the biscotti!
Cut the roll into two or three biscotti (the number of biscotti you get from each roll will depend on how long each roll is). I kept each of my biscotti about 3 inches long, but you can make them shorter or longer.
Dip one side of each biscotti in milk, and then dip in sesame seeds. Place the biscotti on a baking tray.
Bake the biscotti for about 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve with tea or coffee, and enjoy!
Note: depending on how thick you roll out the dough or dates, you may have some dates or dough leftover. If you have remaining dough, just shape it into individual biscotti, sans filling. If you have leftover dates, you can roll mini balls and dip them into sesame seeds for sweet snack.