Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Baalback Special Cookies - Baalback Kaak Krass

Dear friends

I will be away from the blogsphere for couple of weeks.... I will be in my kitchen testing new recipes and preparing for two big events I am participating in as a food vendor. Next week we are celebrating the Maple Syrup Festival in Powassan , a near by town twenty minutes from North Bay.. It’s a full day event….this festival attracts more than 6000 visitors every year…. We are praying for a nice warm sunny weather, it’s an outdoor event, with lots of activities, rides to the maple syrup bush, bands and music, competitions, food and maple tasting and lots more...We love to see you if you are in the neighborhood.

On May 2nd, I am participating in the Spring Craft Show; this is my third year with the show….

I will do my best to come and visit you from time to time… until then I will leave you with this recipe from the Baalback Region….

Mahlab, Mistakeh Gum and Orange Blossom Water are my favourite spices, to use in desserts and cookies, and sweet baking. I use them almost in everything, replacing Vanilla and or any spice... I even use Mahlab in my bread dough its gives the dough a very aromatic perfume smell and flavour.

Many times a recipe calls for the three spices, and I will be in Seventh Heaven…

What are three Lebanese/Mediterranean Spices?

Mahlab or Mahleb

There are many alternative spellings for this spice; mahlab, mahalab, mahleb, mahlebi or mahaleb. All of these names refer to an unusual fragrant spice made from the stones of a small, black cherry tree that grows wild in the Mediterranean region across to Turkey. It was first used for perfumes in the Middle East and Turkey, where it later became popular as a spice for flavouring breads. The world's major producer of Mahlab is now Iran, followed by Turkey and Syria.

Spice Description
Mahleb is the dried kernel of a small cherry stone. It is oval, about 5mm (3/16") long, buff-coloured with a finely wrinkled skin and a cream-coloured interior. The powdered spice is yellowish, similar to the colour to mace. Mahleb is not readily available outside the Middle East, though you may find it in Greek or Middle Eastern markets.
Bouquet: quite sweet with notes of cherry and almond. Some describe it as resembling marzipan.
Flavour: a combination of fragrant rosewater-like sweetness and a nutty and faintly bitter, but not unpleasant aftertaste...

Mastika/Mistakeh Gum

Starts as a semi-transparent sap from lentisk trees (actually evergreen bushes) found only in certain areas of the Greek island of Chios. As resinous granules, it was the original chewing gum, and the name "mastiha" is the root word of "masticate," meaning "to chew."

At the market, look for "mastiha," "mastiki," or "mastic tears" and it might also be available in powdered form

Mastiha is used as a spice in sweets and cooking, as a flavoring for liqueurs, and in soap-making, cosmetics, and toothpaste, among others. Recent evidence of its positive effect on ulcers has resulted in a boom in purchases by large pharmaceutical companies.

Pronunciation: MAHS-TEEKH-HAH

Also Known As: gum mastic

Alternate Spellings: masticha, mastica, mastihi

Examples: To make powdered mastic, use a mortal and pestle to grind the resin. Because the resin can be sticky, grind together with a little sugar or salt (from recipe ingredients). "One drop" of mastic powder means one granule, ground.

Orange flower water (aka orange blossom water) is a clear, perfumed distillation of fresh bitter-orange blossoms.

This essential water has traditionally been used in many French and Mediterranean dessert dishes, but has more recently found its way into Western cuisine.

It has been a traditional ingredient used often in Middle Eastern cooking. In the Arab world, it is frequently added to hard or otherwise bad-tasting drinking water to mask the unpleasant flavor. Orange blossoms are believed to be used in this manner because they are seen as the traditional bridal flower and, therefore, symbolize purity (white, small and delicate).

The Krass means disk in Arabic. They are big cookies around 5 inches in diameter, prepared specially for Easter, and stamped with a traditional Cross Stamp, some even have the special Cross Stamp which represent their Church the Roman Catholic Malakeein, which is the Church of the majority of the Christians in the Baalback Region.

These cookies are crunchy bite, they don’t have lots of levening agent, and the semolina flour gives them the crumbly texture. Some call them Kaak Bi Haleeb- Milk Cookies, but they are known for Krass Kaak Baalback – Cookie Disk from Baalback. I need to mention that the cookies are around 1/2 inch thick.

Recipe for 4 dozens:

1 1/2 kg Firkha (semolina flour #2)
1 1/2 kg AP flour
1000 – 1250 gm sugar (depends on your taste)
1-3 cups milk
1 tbsp nutmeg powder
1 tbsp mahlab powder

1 tsp of ground mistakeh gum
600g butter (if u want them a bit soft put 500g butter + 100g oil)
1 tbsp yeast
3 tbsp orange blossom or 1 tbsp vanilla


Melt the butter, take it off the heat and add the sugar and stir so it will start to melt… let it cool before you add it to the flour mix. Add the yeast and spices and mix , when the butter has cooled enough to pour over the flour and the yeast add it and start mixing… add little by little the milk, depends on the flour, some will need more liquid than others. I use only 1 ½ milk, knead well until you get a nice smooth dough... don’t worry if the dough is a bit wet, within a short time the semolina will soak all the liquid… cover and leave it couple of hours to rest before you start cutting and shaping.

These cookies are good for dunking, treat in a lunch box, after school treat, and they look nice wrapped each individually for children parties. You don’t have to use a special stamp to decorate, any cookie stamp will do.

I like to eat them with a piece of cheese for breakfast with a cup of tea or coffee.

for that I use less sugar than the recipe (1250).

Mistakeh Gum and Mahlab Seeds - check a Middle Easter or Greek Food Store


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Those look delicate and so tempting! I love mahlep.



Arlette said...

Thanks my friend.. Yes they are

Arlette said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tasteofbeirut said...

Great post and you ar clarifying what the mahlab is which is a good thing! Love those kaak, truly a labor of love!

Bria said...

Very cool info about the ingredients. Thanks for the info. The cookies look like they'd be excellent with a nice, steamy cup of tea.

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

Thanks for the information! I saw a recipe on Jouamana's site with mahlab and that looked great so thankyou for that! And best of luck with the show too! :D your cookies look amazing!

Anonymous said...

These cookies sound fabulous, I would love to try!

Azure Islands Designs said...

Cookies look delicious Arlette...can't wait to see what new items you have for the Maple Syrup Festival!!!


Cherine said...

I love the cookies!! They look perfect!

Mom said...


Maaya said...

wow this looks so good and so easy to prepare.. im sure to try this.
also love the post in general

Deirdra said...

Thank you for the info! I will attempt to make them in the next few days... what a way to surprise my dear - he will love them!

do you happen to have a great recipe for mjadara? merci...

pierre said...

hello Arlette
I did not know these biscuits and they look scruptious !! thanks ! Pierre de Paris

Cinnamon-Girl said...

What beautifully flavored cookies! Very special with your pretty decorations.

Angie's Recipes said...

Would love to try these cookies! They look so pretty!

Diane-plop said...

Bonjour Arlette,
Ils sont vraiment superbes tes biscuits avec la gum. J'aurais vraiment aimé y goûter car je ne connais pas du tout les ingrédients et cela serait une découverte pour moi.
Je te souhaite pour les jours à venir un très bon festival avec beaucoup de succès dans les produits que tu représente. (que je ne connais pas non plus... hélas)
Je croyais que tu bloguais du Liban, mais je vois que tu es dans l'Ontario au Canada....
Merci des tes visites et pour tes sympathiques compliments
Très bonne semaine,
Patricica - La Table de Pénélope

Juliana said...

Wow, these cookies sure look special...love the idea of adding orange blossom water...I got a bottle in a Persian grocery and did not know what to do with it...will give a try :-)

elra said...

Good luck Arlette, hope the event is successful.

Heather said...

Arlette: I would love to try making these. I recently had success with baking maamoul and have gone crazy for Middle Eastern sweet treats. How long should these cookies bake for and at what temperature?

Fimère said...

enfin j'ai pu accéder à ton blog!!!
pour te dire que je trouve tes cookies superbes et très tentants, j'adore
bonne soirée

Noor said...

Wow mashAllah you did a GREAT job on these. I would love to come to dinner at your house. I have been drooling over your pictures for an hour now, lol.