These Palestinian date ring cookies, also known as Kaek bil’ ajwa ( date stuffed cookies ) or Kaek Asawer (bracelet cookies), remind me of the holidays. My mom would always bake a batch of these to enjoy throughout Ramadan and to celebrate Eid. I can smell the anise in the cookie dough just thinking of this delicate date cookie.
For the holidays, which are fast approaching, we center many of our desserts around dates, with the most popular being ma’amoul or makrouta. However, these date ring cookies rank high up there and are distinguished by their anise and sesame flavor. They are also less sweet than most date cookies and made with olive oil and butter, making them an irresistible, less guilty treat.
What Ingredients are needed for these Palestinian Date Ring Cookies?
Date Paste- You can purchase baking date paste, which is readily available in Arab grocery markets, or make your own, which is included in the recipe card. The date paste will be the filling for the cookie and what naturally sweetens this dessert as not much sugar is added to the dough itself.
Flour- This recipe was tested with all-purpose flour. I have not tried making it with gluten-free or wheat flour.
Milk Powder- This ingredient offers a lighter, fluffier consistency to the cookie dough and final product. Although it may be skipped, I urge you not to. You can use brands like Carnation or Nido or find generic dry milk powder in your supermarket. I often use it in doughs like my easy dough recipe.
Baking Soda & Yeast– Both of these are used as a leavening or rising agent, you can say, for the cookie. The yeast also offers a subtle flavor to the cookie. I use instant yeast for this cookie.
Anise & Sesame Seeds– These two ingredients bring the most flavor to these date ring cookies. The anise is used in both forms: ground and seeds. Anise has qualities similar to licorice. It is common in our desserts like kaek yansoon or anise biscotti. In our culture, it is also commonly used to make tea that aids in digestive health. I typically use both nigella seeds and sesame seeds for this cookie, but I ran out of black sesame. Feel free to use both or either.
OIive Oil & Melted Butter- I always have a tank of Palestinian olive oil in my home from our village’s olive harvest. It adds such a depth of flavor and color to this cookie. The butter offers flakiness and keeps it less dense.
Sugar– A small amount of powdered sugar is used in the dough as the dates are already naturally sweetened. White sugar is also used with the yeast and warm water to help activate.
How to make Palestinian Date Ring Cookies?
To start, you make the dough for the cookies by combining dry ingredients like flour, milk powder, powdered sugar, baking soda, sesame, and anise.
Then, add olive oil and melted butter to start for the wet ingredients. It won’t come together entirely just yet. Set aside.
Stir together the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Add this to the cookie dough and knead for several minutes until well combined. The dough will be easy to work with, soft and pliable.
Cover the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes before working with it to shape the cookies.
Meanwhile, make the date paste by combining the pitted medjool dates, warm water, cinnamon, and olive oil in a food processor.
To shape, roll a piece of dough like a log, then flatten it like in the first photo. Use the photos as a guide to shape the cookies. They will be filled with the date paste, closed at the seams, shaped into a thin log, and made into a ring.
Place on parchment-lined paper and bake until golden brown. Enjoy warm or room temperature for up to two weeks.
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Palestinian Date Ring Cookies
- 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup milk powder
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- ¼ cup anise seeds
- 1 tbsp ground anise
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup melted butter
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp instant yeast active dry yeast works too
- ¾ cup warm water
- 12 oz Medjool Dates pitted
- 2 tbsp warm water
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tbsp olive oil
- First, mix the flour, milk powder, powdered sugar, baking soda, sesame seeds, anise seeds, and ground anise until well incorporated.
- Then, add the olive oil and melted butter to this and stir together. You will notice it slightly comes together but still needs more liquid. Set aside.
- Mix the yeast, sugar, and warm water and let it rest for 2 minutes. Add this to the cookie dough, slowly kneading it until it becomes a smooth, cohesive cookie dough. This may take a few minutes.
- Place the dough in a bowl and cover with a towel to rest for 30 minutes before using to shape the cookies.
- Meanwhile, make the date paste for the filling.
- Add the pitted fresh Medjool dates to a food processor with warm water and cinnamon. Pulse together until you achieve a cohesive date paste. Add a touch of olive oil to this to make it easier to work with and less sticky. Set aside.
- After the dough has rested, grab a piece about 1-2 tbsp size and roll it into a log.
- Flatten it with your hand until you get an elongated oval shape.
- Add a thin log of date paste in the center, leaving ½ an inch on each end of the oval. Fold over the dough and pinch the edges to seal and shape like a ring.
- Once all the cookies are made, bake in a preheated 350 F oven for approx 25 min until golden brown at the bottom and lightly brown on top. You may need to broil the top to achieve the golden color.
- Let it slightly cool, and enjoy warm! These can be stored in an airtight container once cooled for up to 2 weeks at room temp.