Also known as Ka’aek Bil Ajwa, these, zero-sugar, and heart-healthy cholesterol free-cookies, are very traditional and a staple in many Palestinian homes. This recipe was entrusted to me by my mother (and passed down to her by my late grandmother) who always bakes and cooks everything with nifs (from the heart). While rustic in nature, making the ka’aek bil ajwa is a pretty laborious affair that involves: a lengthy prep, no set recipe, no cookie molds, and no machines! While not a spontaneous affair, ka’aek bil ajwa normally takes place around a kitchen table with many other family members, and friends, happily pitching in: prepping, talking, getting the dough consistency just right, rolling the dates into logs, and finally, keeping a watchful eye over the precious cookies as they bake. Through all this, and somehow, time flies and a host of happy memories are created.
Traditionally ka’aek making followed the seasonal cold pressing of olives into extra virgin olive oil from Palestinian olive groves, and is normally made and eaten at celebrations. These date ring cookies have no sugar (other than the natural sugar from the dates) and the only ‘fat’ is that of the heart-healthy organic olive oil. Aromatic anise, fennel, and a pinch of cinnamon, are what give these slightly yeasted, healthy, and tasty cookies, their Middle Eastern flavor. The date filling in the middle of the ring provides the perfect touch of natural sweetness. Sesame seeds add another layer of nutritious and nutty crunch. A guilt-free treat that is low in carbs, fat and sugar!