Saturday, July 12, 2008


When I had my first kitchen during college, I spent a relaxing spring break without housemates, doing whatever I felt like - such as cooking. My mother had recently given me a copy of our church's cookbook, and I decided that trying my hand at some of my favorite Armenian foods would be a good way to spend the break. That week, I made manti and lehmajun and simit for the first time, and I've since gone on to expand my repertoire a bit. I'm not sure when I first made baraze (a Lebanese cookie hiding out in my Armenian cookbook), but it's found its way into my rotation of cookies.

I first wanted to try making baraze because it uses mahleb, one of my favorite spices. Mahleb is the pit of the sour cherries, and has a fabulous nutty and slightly bitter flavor that is important to many baked goods in Armenia and other surrounding countries. It should be bought whole and ground just before using (although I usually get it ground at the store for convenience's sake).

Of course, once that I saw that the recipe included honey, sesame seeds, and pistachios, I was sold. These buttery cookies are slightly addictive, and the combo of the mahleb, sesame seeds, and pistachios is satisfying to any nut lover.

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. mahleb
2 Tbsp. baking powder
2 sticks butter, melted
1/4 cup warm water
4 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. warm water
sesame seeds (about 3/4 cup)
pistachio nuts, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, mahleb, baking powder, butter, and 1/4 cup water. Mix until dough is firm. Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine honey and water and mix until honey is thinned. On a small plate, combine sesame seeds and chopped pistachios.

Preheat oven to 350°. To form the cookies, roll a piece of dough into a walnut-sized ball, then flatten between your hands. Brush on side with the honey, then dip honey-side down into nut mixture. Arrange cookies on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet about 1 inch apart and bake for 10-15 minutes, until edges begin to brown and the mahleb flecks in the dough begin to darken.


Vicki said...

I just finished taking these out of the oven, and I love them! Thanks for the recipe.

Pam said...

So glad you liked them!

imjustatree said...

hello, ran across your blog from some other food blog, not sure which being that i read too many of them. this recipe seemed interesting, so i went to the market today to buy a few things, but was disappointed that i could not find mahleb. do they only sell that at special markets? i live in southern california.

you have a wonderful blog, which i really enjoy reading.

Pam said...

Thank you, mothermayi, I appreciate the kind words.

Mahleb can be a bit hard to find. I usually buy mine from local Armenian markets. Any middle eastern market should carry it (sometimes you might have to ask for it). I have also purchased it from Penzey Spices in the past. Best of luck finding it!

Anonymous said...

These are superb! Just made a batch and can guarantee that I'll be making more, more, more! Thanks for a great recipe.

Pam said...

Thanks! They really are a unique flavor combo that turn into a surprisingly good cookie.

Elizabeth said...

Hey Pam! I have a funny story for you. A couple of years ago I was at my boyfriend's aunt's house and she had these wonderful cookies. I asked her about them and she said they were a traditional Armenian cookie and that the unique flavor was mahleb. I was so smitten with them she gave me a bag of whole mahleb and a recipe for Baraze. Fast-forward to this week. I was cleaning out stuff in my parents' kitchen and I found the spice and recipe and lo and behold, the recipe was from Cave Cibum. I got quite a kick out of that.

Anonymous said...

What do u mean by two sticks of butter is it 250g