[Sca-cooks] 9th c. "Melting Moments" Cookies - help, please

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Thu May 3 06:40:45 PDT 2012

I would recommend using regular refined sugar rather than powdered sugar.  I 
think you will find the powdered sugar to be too fine and will require more 
oil than you think.

I use a 1 or 2 tablespoon scoop with the built in scraper to shape cookie 

Put parchment paper on the baking pan.


> Greetings to the List!
> I've mentioned before that i cook feasts - and teach cooking classes - 
> without pre-testing my worked out recipes - i can taste them in my mind. 
> Out of at least 150 different recipes, i had a lentil dish that 
> dissatisfied me because i felt it was under seasoned, and a Renaissance 
> Italian chicken recipe that actually gave the amounts and did not turn out 
> so well - i managed to salvage it so it was edible, but not really good.
> However, i am not an intuitive baker. So far all my desserts have turned 
> out well, but i'm feeling a bit insecure. I intend to test these recipes 
> in the coming week, but would appreciate some hints. I hope experienced 
> bakers on the list can give me some clues.
> Here's one recipe. It actually gave quantities.
> p. 418, Annals of the Caliphs' Kitchens, translation by Nawal Nasrallah
> A recipe for exotic (gharib) khushkananaj Wathiqi by Abu Samin
> Grind 3 ratls (3 pounds) refined sugar and sift it in a fine-mesh sieve 
> (munkhul safiq). Add 1-1/2 ratls (1-1/2 pounds) fine samidh flour (high in 
> starch and bran free). Mix them well. Add 1/4 ratl (1/2 cup) sesame oil 
> and knead mixture the way you usually do with flour dough.
> Put the mixture in a mortar (hawan) and pound it to crush ingredients into 
> each other and help them bind.
> Take a small bowl (uskurruja), the smallest you have, or anythings similar 
> in shape such as a wooden or brass huqqa (bowl) with a rounded base and a 
> wide rim. Stuff the bowl tightly with some of the sugar-flour mixture and 
> turn it over onto a khiwan (wide low table). Do this with the rest of the 
> mixture.
> Prepare a large level pan with low sides and arrange the molded pieces, 
> leaving a space between them.
> Lower the pan into a slow-burning tannur. Let cookies bake until they are 
> gold brown. Take the pan out and take the cookies out of the pan with a 
> thin spatula (istam raqiq). You carefully slide the spatula underneath 
> each cookie and transfer it to a clean platter. Arrange the pieces in one 
> layer (yusaff), God willing.
> My modernized version
> 3 lb. powdered sugar
> -- depending on price i'll either buy it cornstarch-free or make my own
> 1-1/2 lb. pastry flour
> 1/2 c. (unroasted) sesame oil
> Sift together sugar and flour.
> Mix in sesame oil.
> Knead well by hand to blend.
> "beat in a mortar to mix well" - i'm thinking in a food processor with a 
> dough blade. (i don't own a KitchenAid)
> To make the little domes, i'll look for a silicone pan so i can form 
> multiple domes at once, since i gotta make about 6 dozen and don't want to 
> spend all of Friday making them. Form and turn out on baking sheet.
> Failing that, i'll make balls and flatten the bottoms on the cookie sheet.
> Bake until golden, at 350 F. for 12-15 min. (i'm near sea level)
> Slide off sheet to cool.
> Put 8 on each serving plate.
> This reminded me of "Melting Moments" / "Russian Tea Cakes" / "Mexican 
> Wedding Cakes".
> 1) Modern recipes i read used ratios of anywhere from 1 part powdered 
> sugar to 5 parts of flour, up to equal amounts of each. This recipe uses 
> twice as much sugar as four, so it may turn out quite different.
> 2) I'm doubting that 1/2 c. oil will merge everything together.
> 3) I suspect the flavor would be enhanced by a few pinches of salt.
> But i am not an intuitive baker, so i would appreciate any advice and 
> suggestions. My thanks in advance.
> And a couple more sweets recipes will follow.
> Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
> the persona formerly known as Anahita
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