I have to first say that these cookies translated into English do not emphasize that they are a total dessert. If you like Baklava, with the sugary syrup drizzled over the top, then you may be comforted by the same syrup in this recipe. Think of a basic sugar cookie, based with butter, with blanched almonds and sugar syrup, and you have a great pairing for an after dinner coffee or tea.
This dessert is one of my husband’s favorite, and a recipe that I have a love-hate relationship with. I first made these for him when we were newlyweds, from a recipe found online. He was both amazed that I could even procure such a recipe, and that I could bake these cookies to his liking! It is not a difficult recipe, per se, but I am not known for my kitchen abilities. After moving, this recipe got lost in the shuffle, and my second attempt resulted in snowball-looking hockey pucks. The cookies didn’t flatten out, and were extremely tough, and the syrup just pooled around them. Sadly, there was no remedy to re-purpose them, and they ended up in the garbage. Multiple cooking disasters later, I finally found a combination that worked. I made this, most recently, to surprise my husband after his trip in Turkey. It surprised him that I even had the desire to try these again and that they were good enough to offer to company. For me, when anything I make gets served to someone outside of my test-circle of my husband or sons, I know that it’s actually good!
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup of butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup semolina
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
about 22-24 almonds, skins removed
(you can do this by microwaving the almonds in a bowl of water, for about 1 minute, and then peeling them)
First combine the ingredients for the syrup and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
To make the cookies: combine the butter, powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Add the egg yolks and mix well with an electric mixer, or by kneading. Pour in the semolina and baking powder, and then slowly add the flour, to avoid clumping. You should have a light yellow, soft dough. Cover it with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and let it sit for 15 minutes.
If you are like me and have minimal counter space in your kitchen, this gives you a chance to wash the dishes and tidy up a bit before the next step.
Form balls out of the dough, about 1 tbsp. at a time, and place on a nonstick cookie sheet or a greased tray. Space them out a bit so they have room to spread. You may have to use more than one pan. Press an almond into the top of each one. Bake 20-25 minutes .
Remove from the oven and let cool enough to handle. If the pan you are using has high edges, you can use this for the final step. If you are using a cookie sheet, place the cookies in either a deep metal tray or a casserole/pie dish. One spoonful at a time, pour the warm syrup over the cookies, waiting until they soak up most of the liquid before adding another layer. Continue until you have finished the syrup. You may have some standing liquid, but it will be absorbed as it sits. Let them soak for 10-15 minutes and then chill in the refrigerator.
You can keep these in the fridge for up to 5 days- but be warned, they will not last that long!
Also, the number of cookies, and the number of almonds you will need, depends on how large or small you make the cookies. Aim for about 1 tbsp. of dough for each, but it’s mostly just eyeballed.
PS- Just so you know, the “s with a tail” is pronounced “sh” so these cookies are “shek-err-pah-ray”