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Assyrian cookies
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5 from 10 votes

Assyrian Holiday Cookies (Kileche/Kleicha)

The most popular Middle Eastern cookie, made with various fillings.
Prep Time2 hrs 30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Dessert, Snacks
Cuisine: Assyrian, Middle Eastern
Servings: 150 pieces (approximate)
Calories: 82kcal

Ingredients

Kileche Dough

  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • cup granulated sugar (plus 1 tablespoon to activate yeast)
  • 10 cups all-purpose flour
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom
  • teaspoon nigella sativa seeds
  • 2 cups unsalted butter (melted)
  • cup plain yogurt (room temperature)
  • 3 medium eggs (beaten)

Walnut Filling

  • cup ground walnuts
  • cup sugar (may reduce to ½ cup)
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom

Coconut Filling

  • cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • cup sugar (may reduce to ½ cup)
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon rose water (optional)

Date Filling

  • 16 ounce date paste (packaged, or make your own)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom

Glaze

  • 2 medium eggs (beaten)
  • 2 tablespoon whole milk

Instructions

Prepare the Dough

  • Mix yeast into warm milk, then sprinkle with one tablespoon sugar, mix and set aside until foamy.
  • Meanwhile, add flour into a large bowl and whisk in the remaining sugar, salt, nigella sativa seeds, and cardamom.
  • Stir melted butter, yogurt, eggs, and milk-yeast mixture into the flour until crumbly. knead by hand, until the dough is soft and smooth. Score the dough with a Cross, cover, and allow to rest in a warm place for one hour.

Prepare the Fillings

  • While the dough is resting, prepare the fillings. Mix the ground walnuts with the sugar and cardamom. Do the same with the coconut filling ingredients.
  • To make the date filling, heat vegetable oil in a small saucepan. Add the date paste and sprinkle with cardamom. Stir and mix, over medium heat, until the date paste is toasted. Frying the dates really brings out their flavor!

Kileche Assembly Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Divide the dough into 3 portions. One portion will be used for each filing. Any extra dough can be rolled into braids and wreaths and baked as is.
  • Walnut Kileche Instructions: Take a small portion of dough and roll it into a ball. Flatten using your thumbs and index fingers. Mold the dough into a bowl shape and fill it with a teaspoon or two of walnut filling. Fold the dough in half and press the edges together. Make small folds all around the edges. Continue until all of the dough or filling is used up. Place the cookies on a parchment-covered cookie sheet as you make them.
  • Prepare the Glaze: Whisk eggs and milk to make the glaze. Pierce Kileche a few times with a fork and brush generously with glaze. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Continue with the next filling.
  • Coconut Kileche Instructions: Use one tablespoon of dough, flatten into a circle. Fill with a few teaspoons of coconut and pinch the dough together. With the pinched portion facing up (so that it ends up on the bottom of the cookie) press and flatten into a Maamoul Mold. Tap mold to dislodge the coconut-filled cookie. If you don't have a mold, just shape into a circle.
  • Continue until you have used up the coconut filling, glazing, and baking as you go.

How To Make Date Kileche

  • Place half of the date paste onto an appromimately 24" piece of waxed paper (shiny side up). Cover with another same sized sheet (shiny side down). Roll into a thin layer using a rolling pin.
  • Divide the last piece of dough into two sections. Roll one of the pieces into a thin layer, approximately the same size as the date layer or a little bigger.
  • Slowly peel back one of the sheets of wax paper. Now flip and press the dates into the dough. Gently peel back the remaining sheet of wax paper.
  • Slice dough lengthwise into two sections and roll into two long tubes. Flatten by pressing down gently with your hands. Make sure the sealed side is facing down. Cut into 2" sections with a crinkle cutter or slice with a sharp knife. Pierce, glaze, bake, and repeat.

Video

Notes

  • Walnut and coconut Kileche are shaped differently to identify what filling is hidden inside.
  • If there is extra dough remaining, it's usually rolled into braids or other shapes and baked as is.
  • A Maamoul Mold is used to make another Middle Eastern cookie, known as "maamoul." I like to use this awesome mold to form the coconut Kleicha.
  • Another fun tool, a Crinkle Cutter can be used to add a decorative edge to the date Kleicha.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 82kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 32mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g