This is the perfect, healthy and wow biscuit, it only has a few ingredients and no sugar or butter. I had learnt to make Arabian Flowers over the spring time when one of my husband’s cousins was getting married. Leading up to the wedding, a variety of food was made at their home for all the different events that took place. I was so glad and grateful for the opportunity when we were asked to help make these show stoppers!! It is always good to learn and share new recipes. I was just so pleased that the humble puff pastry and dried dates can be made into such beautiful and pretty looking biscuits. The main ingredient is dried dates, and I don’t really enjoy dry dates very much, but love fresh dates, so for people like me and children it is a good way to get us to eat food that is good for us Dates are said to be rich in fibre, calcium, vitamins and minerals, and also said to have good medicinal properties.
The original recipe had rose essence and just milk to soften the dates, but I have modified it slightly and added cream as it gives it a much softer and better texture to the dates mix. Adding some spices, or even mixing the dates with figs will give these biscuits a whole new flavour twist but I have yet to try it myself. These are great served warm with some Greek yoghurt and honey or even vanilla ice-cream. You could make this and keep the flowers frozen to heat and eat when ever you want to impress your guests.
Preparation time: 2 hrs Cooking time: 45mins Makes: 30 to 35 biscuits
1 pack puff pastry
200g pack of pitted dried dates
1 tbsp cocoa powder
3/4 tbsp finely chopped almonds, cashews and pistachios
4 tbsp double cream or milk
1) On a heavy base saucepan, over a medium heat, cook the dates, constantly mixing and breaking the dates down as you go. You will have to be very careful not to burn or over cook the dates.
2) Once they soften slightly, add the finely chopped nuts, cocoa powder, and cream or milk, mix well. Cook for just a few minutes to the consistency of a soft dough. You can reheat, adding some more milk or cream if you feel that it is too hard.
3) As soon as you can handle the dates mixture, on slightly greased palms roll the mixture to small balls about 2 cm diameter. Keep aside and let them cool while you roll out the pastry.
4) Roll the pastry to roughly 3 mm thickness and cut with a 5 cm round cookie cutter. It is very important that the pastry is kept at the correct temperature as it does not work well if kept at room temperature for too long, so you will have to keep it in the fridge or freezer for 20 to 30 mins.
5) Place a ball of the dates mixture in the middle of the circle of pastry. Pull the pastry over and completely cover the ball, trying to remove as many creases as possible to make a larger ball. You can remove any excess pastry if you feel there is too much. Flatten this pastry ball slightly using the palms of your hands.
6) Before cutting the filled balls, place in the freezer for a little while as the flower shape will not not form properly. Make six cuts into the flattened ball from the edge to just off the centre (as shown in the picture). Make sure you do not go right to the centre, otherwise you’ll get six separate wedges.
7) To create the flower, with your thumb and index or middle finger, pinch and twist each cut segment about 90 degrees in one direction and then flatten them slightly to create a petal shape. Practice makes perfect, you will get the hang of it after a few goes, just be patient The trouble is worth the effort! Once the flower is created place on a baking sheet, ready to go into the oven.
8.) Once all the flowers have been made bake in a preheated oven at 200′C for 20 mins or until golden brown. Let them cool slight and enjoy.
Click on an individual image below to see a larger version.