Shakar Lama (شكرلمة), Cardamom & Almond Tea Cookies from Iraq
If it hasn't been completely obvious by what kind of recipes I tend to post, I am completely in love with desserts and other sweet flavors that incorporate very tea-inspired ingredients. Whether it's lavender, orange blossom, bergamot, or cardamom, I love the unique fragrance it gives recipes and the subtle nod it sends to some of my favorites in Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisine.
These cookies, simple butter cookies enhanced with the flavor of cardamom, are called quite a few names in the Middle East. In Iraq, they are called Shakar Lama and topped with a slivered almond or a roasted pistachio. In Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon, they are referred to as Hab-El-Hal and sometimes the nut is exchanged for powdered sugar or toasted sesame seeds. Whatever you call it or however you decide to garnish it, you will still end up with a completely satisfying plate of cookies that makes a perfect partner for your favorite cup of tea du jour! (I highly recommend serving it alongside a pot of this Lebanese cinnamon-anise tea.)
1 cup rendered (clarified) butter or ghee (You should be able to find clarified butter at a grocery store like Trader Joe's, but check out this video if you want to clarify the butter you might already have at home.) 1 1/2 cups sugar 3 eggs 4 cups all-purpose flour 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 3 teaspoons cardamom powder Roasted pistachios or almonds for garnish, optional 2 tablespoons powdered sugar for garnish, optional
1) Cream butter, eggs, and sugar. 2) Mix flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt. Add gradually to the butter mixture. 3) Add milk or water if needed to form dough (consistency of bread dough). Roll dough 1/2" thick and cut with cookie cutter. Place on baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes in an oven preheated to 375 degrees. 4) If garnishing with nuts, press one slivered almond or one pistachio to the center of each cookie halfway through baking. If garnishing with powdered sugar, sprinkle it on top of each cookie once they have fully cooled.