Hospitality is a fine art in the Middle East, with traditions to dictate every gesture. A guest will always be offered tea, coffee, and one or more old-fashioned sweets, like kanafeh pastry, or silky malabi, or light fekka cookies. The traditional fekka is baked twice, like biscotti, and like those Italian cookies, is just sweet enough to satisfy. This easy variation makes nugget-sized cookies that bake up only once.
Moroccan Fekka Cookies
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons neutral-flavored vegetable oil
2 tablespoons orange-flower water
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 – 2-1/4 cups flour
4 tablespoons anise, sesame, or poppy seeds, or a mixture of seeds
You may omit the butter and use all vegetable oil.
If using whole wheat flour, you will probably need only 2 cups. Not traditional, but very good, is to use brown sugar instead of white.
In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, fats, orange flower water, salt, and baking powder. Add the flour and seeds.
Stir to make a soft dough, then knead it briefly. Add flour by tablespoons to keep it manageable, but do not add so much as to make the dough stiff. It should remain slightly sticky.
Remove balls of dough the size of an egg, and roll them on a lightly-floured surface to make “snakes” 1″ – 2 cm. thick. Place all the rolled dough “snakes” on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Do not allow them to touch. Cover and freeze for an hour to stiffen the dough.
Preheat the oven to 400° F – 200° C.
Slice the “snakes” into pieces about 1/2″ – 1 cm. thick, separating the pieces with the knife blade so that they bake evenly all over. Bake 12-15 minutes, checking at 12 minutes for a light brown color.
Cool the fekkas on the same baking sheet for a few minutes, then scoop them out carefully onto a rack. Once cooled, fekkas may be stored for two weeks.
Photo of fekka cookies by Miriam Kresh.