These Syrian cookies are filled with an orangy, nutty paste.

What to buy: Look for mahlab in Greek, Turkish, Lebanese, or Arabic markets. Buy whole mahlab kernels and crush them just before using. Although you can buy mahlab already ground, once powdered it goes from creamy white to yellow and rapidly loses its flavor and aroma.

  • Yields: About 30 cookies

Ingredients (8)

  • 4 cups fine semolina
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon freshly crushed mahlab
  • 1 1/4 cups melted unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 pound walnuts or pistachios
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange flower water


  1. Combine semolina, flour, mahlab, and melted butter. Let the mixture stand, covered, for 1 hour. Knead in about 1/2 cup water, just enough to make a soft but not sticky dough.
  2. Make the filling by processing together walnuts or pistachios, sugar, orange flower water, and about 2 tablespoons water, or enough to make a thick paste.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Roll a walnut-size piece of dough into a ball and, holding it in your cupped palm, make a deep depression in its center with your finger. Press in 1 teaspoon of filling and pinch the edges of the dough firmly together to fully enclose the filling. Continue forming cookies in the same manner, arranging them seam side down and 1 inch apart on 2 greased baking sheets.
  4. Bake until pale golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool, then dust with confectioners’ sugar.