Who can resist the calling of a classic chocolate muffin - rich, sweet and indulgently delicious.
150g unsalted butter
300g fine semolina
1/4 tsp salt
75g caster sugar
2-3 drops almond extract, or 1/4 tsp ground mahlab
25ml each orange blossom water and rose water
1 tsp fast action yeast
300g pitted dried dates
50g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Shelled peeled pistchios, chopped or sliced (optional)
Icing sugar, to finish
The night before you want to make the biscuits, heat the butter in a heavy based saucepan until most of the milky solids have disappeared from the bottom then remove from the heat. Put the semolina in a bowl then stir the melted butter, mixing well. Cover the bowl and leave overnight at room temperature.
The following day, mix in the salt, sugar, almond extract (or mahlab), orange and rose waters. Dissolve the yeast in 1 tablespoon of warm water then add to the bowl. Cover the bowl and leave for 1-2 hours at room temperature before using.
For the filling, puree the dates, butter and cinnamon until smooth.
Individual date pastries
For each pastry, take 30g of dough and roll it into a ball. Place the ball in the palm of one hand, then press into the ball to make a hollow almost through to the other side.
Place 20g of date filling inside, push the pastry gently up around it with your thumb, then pinch the joins gently to seal it. Place on a baking tray lined with non-stick paper, join-end down and press the prongs of a fork 4-5 times around the sides to make groove impressions.
Heat the oven to 160 degrees celsius and bake for 25-30 minutes or until just beginning to brown on the base and very top.
Once cold, dust well with icing sugar and serve.
From 'Comptoir Libanais' by Tony Kitous and Dan Lepard. Copyright Tony Kitous and Dan Lepard 2013. Images copyright of Dan Lepard.
Reprinted by permission of Random House Australia.
All rights reserved. RP $40.95 by Preface. Available now from bookstores.
Photo Credits: Dan Lepard