My apologies if the recipes aren't exact or easily replicable. I did what I could to get good measurements, but have you ever asked your grandmother how she makes that amazing old family recipe that generations have adored? Yeah, try. She will tell you 'oh its just a pinch of this, and that and voilà.'
These cookies are known all over the place, but according to Sabrina the Tunisians and Moroccans usually fry them, while Algerians bake them and then dip them in honey. We skipped the honey.
400g melted butter
~they actually said margarine is better, melted, and only using what rises to the top, and not the sediments
1 large tablespoon salt
1 cup heated orange blossom water
~should be easy to find in an international market
more water as needed
Throw together the salt and the flour. Make a well in the flour and pour in the melted butter. Rub in the butter until it resembles a pile of moist sand. Pour in the heated orange blossom water and continue rubbing together.
This will be almost more of a crust dough than a smooth bread/pasta dough. Meaning, you don't want to overwork it (making it too smooth by forming gluten bonds) or the cookies wont be flaky.
You know its done when a handful of dough, squeezed tightly in your fist, forms a kind of ball.
Pat the dough into a ball and set it aside for about 30 minutes.
1/2 kg date paste
a generous pour of olive oil
a generous 1/4c (or more?) orange blossom water
~ in the US, you'll probably have to visit an international grocery for this
1generous teaspoon of cinnamon
Work all this together like a dough until it is uniform and set aside.
To form the cookies: make hotdogs
Taking a fist sized chunk of the cookie dough at a time, roll it into a log then press into it with your fingers to form a hot dog bun shape. Roll the appropriate size of date paste into a hotdog and place it in the bun. With great finess, close up the bun and roll out the log.
There seem to be a variety of stamps available, and all kinds of dos and don'ts with shaping, but I won't pretend to know anything. These seemed really nice to me. We stamped them, cut them, and placed them on a cookie sheet. It made easily a hundred cookies...
After stamping and placing them, a small sliver of almond went perfectly in the middle, and had a surprisingly delightful taste in the finished product!
Bake at really high heat, maybe 400ºF/205ºC, but maybe much hotter. Their oven said it was 260ºC, but it didn't feel that hot to me. 15-20 minutes, juuuust until they start to brown.
Traditionally, they're dipped in and dripping with honey, but we all preferred them without.