5 Ingredients or Fewer
Kahk (Egyptian Celebration Cookies)
- Prep time 1 hour
- Cook time 55 minutes
- makes 20 cookies
These delicate, little, crumbly cookies may have originated in Egypt but kahk (and variations of it) are loved all over the Arabic-speaking world. Known as “Eid cookies,” they are specifically served during Eid-Al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan, and during the Eid celebrations of Coptic Easter and Christmas. Pronounced with a sharp “h” sound, kahk are perhaps one of the most recognizable cookies in Egypt. In fact, the term “kahk” (which translates to cookie) is a Coptic word in the ancient Egyptian language.
Kahk are a bit different from other cookies. There’s no sugar in the cookie dough, and their sweetness comes from confectioners’ sugar dusted over the top of the baked treats (kids are known to just lick the tops of the cookies). The generously toasted sesame seeds in the dough add texture to the kahk as well as a lovely nutty taste to this buttery treat.
One of my favorite memories growing up was watching—and sometimes helping—my mom and dad roll the dough into the little cookie balls, after which my mom would stamp on her signature pattern with her mon’ash, a specialized kahk stamp that looks like a little metal tweezer. Not everyone has a mon’ash, so many people use a fork or any other cookie stamp, as the purpose is to make little dents into the dough, creating extra surface area for the sugar to collect.
As someone who isn't as comfortable with baking as cooking, I find these really easy to bake—there isn't much that can go wrong with them. This is my mother Tereza Fawzy’s recipe that never fails me (the measurements are scaled down, because she tends to make close to a hundred at a time to be shared with many people during holidays).
They are crumbly and satisfying plain, but can also sometimes be stuffed with date paste, Turkish delights, or nuts. To do this, use a #30 (about 2 tablespoons) cookie scoop to portion out mounds of dough, then roll each into a ball in your hands as instructed in Step 6. Cut the dough ball in half, then use your thumb to make a little dent in the center of one half. Add enough filling to fill the dent. Make a dent in the other dough-half, then press the halves together and roll with your hands again to seal the cookie. Then flatten slightly and continue on with Step 6. —Mary Fawzy
(heaped) (20 grams) white sesame seeds
3 1/2 cups
(420 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 1/4 cups
(250 grams) ghee
(57 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- Heat the oven to 395°F and line two sheet pans with parchment paper. In a dry skillet over medium-low heat, toast the sesame seeds, shaking the pan regularly, until golden brown. They can burn quite quickly so it’s important to keep watch. Transfer to a large bowl, and reserve the skillet.
- In the large bowl mix together the toasted sesame seeds, flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In the same skillet over medium heat, melt the ghee, then bring it to a simmer. Remove from the heat.
- Make a shallow well in the flour mixture. Slowly pour the melted ghee, a little at a time, into the well, mixing with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon in the well area, and then eventually working through all the dry ingredients. You should hear a slight sizzling sound as the hot ghee is poured in. Once all the ghee is added, give the dough a good mix to ensure there are no dry bits of flour remaining. Set the dough aside until cool enough to touch.
- Knead the dough a few times. If the dough seems wet, add additional flour, ¼ cup (30 grams) at a time; or if the dough seems dry, add lukewarm water, a splash at a time. The dough should form a smooth and soft (but not sticky) ball. Cover the bowl with a towel and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Use a #40 (1 1/2 tablespoon) cookie scoop to portion out heaped mounds of dough, then roll each into a ball in your hands. Place half of the cookies about 2 inches apart from each other on the prepared sheet pans and flatten slightly (they will spread a little further while baking). Lightly press a fork or stamp into each cookie, making sure not to flatten more as you create the pattern.
- Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly golden on top, then repeat with the second half. Allow the cookies to cool completely before dusting over the confectioners’ sugar.
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