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Milk Street Bowtie Turkish Date-Filled Semolina Cookies

Turkish Date-Filled Semolina Cookies

Makes 20 large cookies

1 ½ hours 1 hour active, plus cooling

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During a recent visit to Türkiye, we became fans of kömbe, buttery, pastry-like cookies made with spices and semolina, filled with nuts or dates and imprinted with delicate patterns or designs. Similar to Middle Eastern ma’amoul, kömbe are a specialty of Antakya in the country’s southernmost province. Our version adds cinnamon and orange zest to the dough, along with a little yogurt to help bind the ingredients. The cookies can be formed simply, using only your hands, but for unique shapes and filigree-esque details, a kömbe mold is essential. Made from wood or plastic, the molds are spoon-like, with flutes, scallops or ridges that imprint the dough with intricate designs. Our recipe includes instructions for shaping by hand as well as using a mold with a capacity of about 2½ tablespoons. Whichever method you choose, filling and shaping becomes easier with each cookie you form. The dough is clay-like and manageable; if you’re shaping by hand, you may even wish to experiment with creating designs using the tines of a fork. The cookies are excellent served with tea or coffee. Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, kömbe will keep for up to a week.

Makes 20

large cookies

Tip

Don’t use the dates without first checking for pits, even if you purchased pitted dates. Date variety doesn’t matter for these cookies—medjools are likely what you’ll find in grocery stores—but do seek out ones that are soft and plump. Dry and leathery dates may resist processing; adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of orange juice will help them break down.

1 ½ hours

1 hour active, plus cooling

170 grams (1 cup) semolina flour
130 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour
54 grams (¼ cup) white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
146 grams (10 tablespoons) cold salted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
60 grams (¼ cup) plain whole-milk yogurt or 45 grams (3 tablespoons) plain whole-milk Greek yogurt mixed with 1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
454 grams (1 pound) pitted dates
28 grams (2 tablespoons) salted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 teaspoons grated orange zest, plus 1 or 2 tablespoons orange juice, if needed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
Extra-virgin olive oil or neutral oil, if needed for greasing
36 grams (¼ cup) sesame seeds, if not using a kömbe mold
For the dough:
  • 170

    grams (1 cup) semolina flour

  • 130

    grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour

  • 54

    grams (¼ cup) white sugar

  • ½

    teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ¼

    teaspoon table salt

  • 146

    grams (10 tablespoons) cold salted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces

  • 60

    grams (¼ cup) plain whole-milk yogurt or 45 grams (3 tablespoons) plain whole-milk Greek yogurt mixed with 1 tablespoon water

  • ½

    teaspoon grated orange zest

For the filling:
  • 454

    grams (1 pound) pitted dates

  • 28

    grams (2 tablespoons) salted butter, cut into 4 pieces

  • 2

    teaspoons grated orange zest, plus 1 or 2 tablespoons orange juice, if needed

  • 1

    teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ¼

    teaspoon table salt

For shaping and finishing:
  • Extra-virgin olive oil or neutral oil, if needed for greasing

  • 36

    grams (¼ cup) sesame seeds, if not using a kömbe mold

Directions

Turkish Date-Filled Semolina Cookies

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