I have learned these cookies from a Turkish blogger, Sibel of Sibel’in Kahvesi. Since she published them it has been baked by many of us several times and has been a total winner. Whoever I served them for asked for the recipe.
Sibel said that they are reproductions of a famous cafe in AyvalÄ±k, a city on the Western Turkey on Eagean coast. Since I have not had a chance to eat the original ones, I cannot judge how authentic they are but I know for sure that they are great!
These cookies ask for two unusual ingredients: mastic gum and lor cheese:
Mastic gum, resin from the mastic tree grown in particular areas on the Eagean sea coast, adds amazing flavor to these cookies. We usually add it to milk based desserts and always is associated with sweets. Looks like little gems, these are just wonderful in flavor. You will be able to fin them in little jars in Greek or Middle Eastern stores.
The other ingredient in this recipe is lor which is a Turkish cheese quite similar to ricotta or Indian paneer. Original recipes for lor and ricotta call for whey left over from the cheese making but one can make similar cheese by adding yogurt/salt/vinegar to boiling milk and let it curdle. In order to make 400gr (14 oz?) of lor, you need about 2 quarts of milk and one of the ingredients below:
- 1 tsp of white vinegar
- 1 tsp of salt
- 2 – 3 Tbsp kefir
- 1 – 2 Tbsp lemon juice
For the sweet recipes that uses lor, I usually try to use kefir or vinegar only. Sometimes it is so hard to get the milk curdle for some reason. Even though I have given those measurements for the acidic ingredients, I find myself putting more of them for some hard-to curdle milk. Not sure why some are resistant to curdling, if you have any ideas, let me know.
Having said that lor is similar to ricotta, I have never made these cookies with ricotta. I am sure the result will be perfect.
Now comes the recipe for the mastic gum lor cookies. :)
(Makes about 15 – 16 cookies)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 250 gr lor/ricotta
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs (keep one egg white for brushing the top)
- 1/4 lemon’s juice
- 1 tsp baking soda
- approximately 2 cups of flour
- 2 small pieces of mastic gum
- about a cup of sesame seeds
- Preheat oven to 180C (350F), grease baking sheets
- Mix the olive oil, lor (or ricotta), sugar and eggs in a bowl. Dissolve bakings soda in lemon juice, and add to the mix along with flour. Stop adding flour until you have a soft but not sticky dough
- Crush the mastic gum into powder, add to the dough and knead some more
- Take pieces from the dough, about 2 walnut size, shape them and dip into egg white and then to sesame seeds, put onto greased baking sheets about 5cm (2 inches) apart
- Bake for about 30 – 35 minutes, until golden brown. It will be soft when you take out of the oven, let it cool before eating.