Experience the ancient flavors of these Egyptian Kahk Cookies. These traditional Egyptian treats are rich, buttery, and delicately spiced, filled with fragrant ingredients like dates, nuts, or a sweet honey filling. Baked to perfection and dusted with powdered sugar, Kahk cookies are an essential part of festive celebrations and special occasions in Egypt. Indulge in the taste of tradition and immerse yourself in the culinary heritage of Egypt with these delightful, melt-in-your-mouth Kahk cookies.
A Tale of Wonderful Window Sill Adventure
It was a lovely cool evening when I landed my sleigh between two towering palm trees in Cairo. I had just flown over the incredible pyramids on my way in. What a sight it is to see every year. I never get tired of it or of thinking about all the goings on that have happened there in a time gone by.
As I peered through the window of one of the apartments, I recognized the most marvelous site and sound. The site was a large family gathered inside together, embracing. The sound was of them laughing together and smiling in the glow of Christmas.
I noticed them handing little boxes to one another. The glittering gift boxes were filled with delicious-looking cookies. Ah, the next sound I heard was a roaring, rumbling noise close by! It was my tummy.
Just as I thought, a plate of these cookies was on the edge of the window sill. Beside them was a glass of milk and a little note with the words “Baba Noel” written. That’s what Egyptian folk call me. Egyptian children celebrating Christmas love to try to stay awake at night to see me climb through their windows.
As I bit into the cookie, I knew. Kahk cookies. The ancient and traditional celebration cookie of Egypt. What a treat – a center filled with honey, pistachios, and sesame seeds, mouth-watering and oh-so-tasty.
Substitutions and Variations
- For the filling: although a popular filling, if you can’t find pistachios or sesame seeds or you just want to try something different, there are plenty of options for your nut paste. Try making the kahk fillings with soft chopped dates and walnuts for a lovely rich center.nUsing a sticky sweet date paste as the filling increases the sweetness of these cookies as they are barely sweet. Date paste is a little darker than the pistachio filling. The other flavor you can try is caramelized pecan nuts.
- Add some zested orange or lemon into the filling for a bit of variation. You can half the recipe and flavor with half and half.
- If you want to add more pistachio flavor, you could drop in some pistachio extract.
- You can sprinkle toasted sesame seeds onto the cookie dough balls.
- Dust with extra powdered sugar at the end. Powdered sugar will also increase sweetness.
- Some use a kahk stamper to create a pattern on the top. You can look for a kahk stamper in vintage stores or online.
- If you can’t find ghee, make your own clarified butter as an idea for your kahk.
Storage and Shelf-life of Egyptian kahk cookies
These cookies will last for around two weeks at room temperature or just over a month if kept in the refrigerator. Dusting with powdered sugar can increase the shelf-life a little.
You can also freeze these cookies for up to 3 months if you want to make them up in advance.
What Are Kahk Cookies?
Kahk cookies are Egyptian treats that are served on many different occasions, including Christmas. Also known as Eid cookies, they are said to go back as far as ancient times, and some pictograms have been found in ruins of ancient Egyptians making kahk. The have a lovely delicate texture.
Khak cookies are not your regular buttery sugar cookie or Christmas cookie dusted with powdered sugar. They are flavored with kahk seasoning. They are a baking powder-free Christmas cooking option! Bake kahk with family and friends to get into the spirit and as a kahk tradition.
Back in those ancient times, kahk were molded into different shapes and forms. It is interesting to think about how these cookies were made way back.
There is a variety of different fillings, traditional to kahk. The most common filling, as per this recipe, is made with pistachio nuts, honey, and ghee. Powdered sugar is non-traditional but a lovely addition.
They have a short prep time and it is relatively easy to make kahk cookies.
How To Serve And Eat Kahk Cookies
To serve them in a traditional Egyptian way, place your khak cookies on a pretty plate and then serve them with a lovely cup of shay bel laban (milk tea). The can be plated and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds and a dusting of powdered sugar.
These are pretty filling kahk cookies and would make a wonderful dessert with some ice cream served alongside it. That is by no means a traditional way to serve them, but it’s certainly a tasty one.
The Health Benefits of the Key Ingredients
- Pistachio nuts are jam-packed with nutrients and fiber that are great for regulating blood pressure and keeping your cholesterol in check. They are also a great source of protein for vegetarians and contain good bacteria for your gut.
- Honey: good quality honey contains nutrients that promote healing and all-around health. Honey is rich in antioxidants and is anti-inflammatory.
- Purchase reehet el kahk or kahk essence for a really authentic taste.
- Sesame seeds: are often rubbed onto arthritic joints to ease inflammation and pain.
- Ghee is rich in good fats and contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which are linked to a healthy heart and brain.
Wrapping It Up
Given the little step of stuffing the cookies, these are really fun to make. Give them a whirl and enjoy this khak recipe for family and friends. They remind me a little of the British mince pie, not in terms of flavor, but just that they have a lovely soft sweet filling.
Lovely to serve on a platter with Turkish delight!
Have a go, and remember my incredible adventure in Egypt when you take your first bite of a khak cookie! If you need a little extra sweetness, dust yours with powdered sugar.
Egyptian Kahk Cookies
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp instant yeast
- 1 tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup butter or ghee room temperature
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 TBS butter or ghee room temperature
- 1 TBS all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- ¼ cup honey
- ½ cup pistachios chopped
- 1 TBS powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F
- In a medium mixing bowl, add the flour, yeast, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. This can also be done in a stand mixer so add the ingredients to the bowl of your stand mixer if you prefer. Mix everything briefly to combine the dry ingredients.3 cups all-purpose flour, ½ tsp instant yeast, ½ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp salt, 1 tbsp sugar
- Add in the butter or ghee to the flour mixture. Mix together with the dry ingredients.1 cup butter or ghee
- Add the water slowly until it comes together into a light pliable dough.1/3 cup water
- Cover and rest the kahk dough in a cool place for an hour. This dough has a short prep time.
- In a small pan, melt the butter or ghee and heat to a low heat.1 TBS butter or ghee
- Add the flour and cook it on medium/low until the mixture turns slightly golden. Remove this mixture from the heat.1 TBS all-purpose flour
- Add the honey and the sesame seeds and cook the mixture until it thickens a little.¼ cup honey, 1 tsp sesame seeds
- Remove from the heat and add the pistachios; mix to combine.½ cup pistachios
- Allow the honey filling to cool for 10 minutes or so. Set aside in a small bowl.
- Divide the cookies into 20 dough balls and the filling into 20 balls. Ensure you have rolled a smooth ball each time.
- Take the cookie dough ball and flatten it out.
- Place the filling ball inside the dough ball and wrap the dough around the filling.
- Repeat this with all 20 cookies.
- Press the cookie down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for about 25 minutes of until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. Give them 5 minutes on the baking sheet before moving them.
- Cool and then dust with powdered sugar.1 TBS powdered sugar