Egyptian Date Crescents

During our baking marathon last Friday my mom and I also made some cookies, including these Egyptian Date Cookies. We make them every year at Christmas and Easter for my dad. As we shaped these Egyptian cookies, my mom told me stories about what Easter was like when she was growing up in Poland. There was so much cooking and baking to do, the whole family would work for days in advance. Everyone you saw was invited to Easter dinner, and often people you hadn’t seen would just show up, so they had to be prepared for a lot of guests. On Easter Sunday no work was done. Everyone would go to church and then families and friends would all get together to celebrate.

Things are a little different now, as it was just my immediate family at our celebration this year. We still had quite a feast though. First was breakfast made up of Polish sausage and ham, rye bread, hard boiled eggs, and babka. It’s a very Polish meal. Then after a quick visit to the Saint Joseph Oratory on Mount Royal (a beautiful basilica with very challenging steps leading up to it, every time I go I hear the Rocky theme music in my head), we got to work on dinner. Roast lamb, stuffed vines leaves, rice, potatoes, salad. Then came my favourite part, dessert; a light cake and these cookies.

One of the advantages of having my mom around while baking is that I was able to take “how to” pics. Here’s a visual on how to form the crescents:

Egyptian Date Crescents

Makes about 50 cookies

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 lb butter at room temp, cut into pieces
  • 1 tsp rose water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 package pressed dates
  • icing sugar for coating
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Using your hands, combine the butter and flour until it holds together when squeezed and there are no large pieces of butter.
  3. Add the rose water and milk. Stir until well combined. The dough should have a play dough like consistency.
  4. Take about a tablespoon of dough, form it into a ball. Press the center of the ball down, creating dent in the dough. Place a small amount of the pressed dates into the indentation. Close the dough up, then twist into a crescent. (See pictures above)
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, until the bottom of the cookies are just golden.
  6. Let cool completely, then cover in icing sugar.
These cookies will keep in an airtight container for about a week.

My Initiation Into Egyptian Shortbread

I think my mom might finally actually trust my baking abilities. This Easter I have been assigned the task of making “my father’s cookies” as my mom likes to call them. To everyone else they are Egyptian shortbread cookies, traditionally (at least in my family) stuffed with a date filling.

When I was a kid I hated the date filling, it looks like chocolate but it’s not chocolate. That’s very upsetting to a child. To appease my anger, my mom also started making nut filled cookies just for me. The problem? All of the cookies looked exactly the same. Biting into a date filled cookie when I was expecting walnuts was also very upsetting. Now that I’m a little older (ok, a lot older) I’ve learned to appreciate dates, so I made both versions of the cookies.

My personal touches? Two different shape for easy identification, and almonds instead of walnuts due to some recent face swelling experiences after eating walnuts.

out these, but I think I did a pretty good job. I used too much dough in the first few cookies while trying to figure out how to properly shape them, but still managed to get over 50 cookies from the recipe. It turns out the secret is to really press the dough into your palm before putting the filling in. That way the dough can easily be wrapped around the filling to make the crescent shape.

It’s important to have a good filling to dough ratio. You may have noticed there is no sugar in the dough, so all of the sweetness comes from the filling and the icing sugar on top.

I  used vanilla instead of rose-water, because rose-water isn’t something I keep in the house. If you do want to make the cookies with rose-water keep in mind that it has a very unique flavour.  A whole tablespoon can be over powering to those who aren’t used to the flavour, it makes the cookies a little perfume-y. I think flavouring the cookies with orange rind would also be very tasty. That’s an experiment for another day.