On Friday morning at 5am, I found myself baking cookies. This isn’t an everyday occurrence in my house, I must add. I’d promised to make Persian Date Menenas for an international cookie table on Saturday, so the clock was ticking.
I made my cup of tea and got to making the dough. It’s super easy with a food processor. While I made the dough, I froze the dates, then while the dough was chilling, I processed the dates and then cooked them down with butter and water to make a delicious paste. Dates really are like nature’s candy. The entire recipe has 1Tbs sugar in it, but the dates make these pretty pinwheels plenty sweet. I definitely went to work that morning on a sugar high.
Date Menenas Recipe (adapted from Middle Eastern Cooking by Suzy Benghiat) Makes ~20
7Tbs unsalted butter
1 3/4 c flour
1 Tbs confectioner’s sugar
4.5Tbs cold milk
1 1/3 c dates (pitted)
1Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs water
1. Roughly chop the dates, then freeze them while you prepare the pastry (for about 20 minutes is ideal).
2. Make the pastry. Using a food processor (or forks), combine the butter, flour, and sugar until it looks like sand. Add the milk and oil until the dough becomes a ball. Pat the dough into a rectangle, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate (for around 30 min or until the date paste is ready).
3. Make the date paste. Process the chopped, frozen dates (or if you don’t have a food processor, cut the pieces very finely). It will be loud and the food processor might become unstable and start rocking (the dates all stick to each other and become a ball). Put the date puree and the water and butter in a pan over low heat. It will turn into a very thick paste. Remove from heat.
4. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease and flour a baking sheet.
5. Assemble the menemas. Remove the pastry from the fridge. I cut it in halves, then rolled half the dough out into a rectangle. Spread half the paste onto the pastry, leaving a border. Carefully roll up the dough. Flatten the roll a bit with the palm of your hand, then cut the roll into pieces (mine were about 1 in wide). Place the pinwheel cookies on a baking sheet.
6. Bake for 20-30 min (22 did it for me) until the pastry is slightly brown underneath but is still white on top. Once cool, you can sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.
On Saturday I stopped by the event to sample some of the other volunteer bakers’ creations. There were macarons, baklava, cruchies, Palm Sugar rice balls, Mexican wedding cookies, and more. I filled up a little bag with these delights and plan on stretching them out for a few days.
I think that International Cookies is a great party theme as well- maybe I’ll try to put one together for the holidays.