Recipe Post: Laddu (Somalian Sesame & Peanut Confection)

These remind me of those crunchy sesame bars packed with sugar & corn syrup that you find in all of the delis of NYC, but these laddu are much easier on your teeth (they are soft with a slight chewiness) and your blood sugar levels, AND they have the added richness of peanut and cardamom.

These are really my kind of treat. They remind me of those crunchy sesame bars packed with sugar & corn syrup that you find in all of the delis of NYC, but these laddu are much easier on your teeth (they are soft with a slight chewiness) and your blood sugar levels, AND they have the added richness of peanut and cardamom. I adapted the recipe from Xawaash, a Somali food blog written by a couple who now live in Canada.Their recipes and stories are full of lovely details that convey a deep love for their native country.


I adapted the recipe so that it contains no added sugar and requires no cooking.


125 g Sesame Seeds, raw
1/2 tspn Ground Cardamom
125 g Roasted Peanut Butter (unsalted)

200 g Medjool Dates, pits removed


Toast the sesame seeds and cardamom in a small pan over medium heat until golden and fragrant. Let cool. Grind sesame seeds in food processor (pulsing) until they are a fine powder (do not over-grind, or they will become tahini paste!). Remove from food processor and set aside.

Place peanut butter & dates in the food processor and puree until smooth and homogeneous. Add the ground sesame seeds and pulse just until mixed in.

Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on a cutting board. Place the laddu mixture on top and squeeze into a squared ball. Place another sheet of plastic wrap on top, and use a rolling pin to roll the paste into a uniform 1/2-” thickness. Remove the top sheet of plastic wrap and cut into desired shapes. The laddu can also be rolled into balls. My first batch came and went within a single day. Enjoy yours while they last!

Recipe Post: Kleicha (Iraqi Date Pastries/Cookies)

kleicha iraqi date cookie by Fruitcake Farmstand. Sweetened with fruit & no added sugar.Over the course of a recent week, I researched, executed, and adapted recipes from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. I know that I didn’t change the world or relieve anyone’s suffering by baking in my kitchen, but it was important to me to get better acquainted (albeit minimally) with the cultures of these countries, partially through their cuisines. Many of the recipes I referred to I found on blogs written by people who had grown up in one of these countries and emigrated elsewhere. They wrote of their love for their respective native countries and their cuisines, and of their disappointment with the turmoil that grips many of them.

A few of the recipes I tried out adapted easily to my Fruitcake techniques. I’m posting my favorites, starting with Kleicha.

Kleicha (Iraqi Date Pastries) (Adapted from The Iraqi Family Cookbook Blog, Make Cupcakes, Not War, & Maryam’s Culinary Wonders)

These delicious pastries (most blogs refer to them as “cookies,” but I think it’s more apt to call them pastries) resemble a cross between a cinnamon roll and a rugelach. And amazingly the original recipe doesn’t call for sugar in the first place–only dates–so it was very easy to adapt!



For the dough:

460 g (3-1/3 cups) All-Purpose Flour
244 ml (1 cup) Whole Milk
8 g (2 teaspoons) Active Dry Yeast
80 ml (1/3 cup) Flavorless vegetable oil such as grapeseed
150 g (11 tablespoons) Unsalted Butter, melted
1 tspn Ground Cardamom
1/2 tspn Salt
1/4 tspn Mahlab or a couple drops of Almond Extract
1 tspn Nigella Seeds or Black Sesame Seeds

For the filling:

250 g (1-1/2 cups) Medjool Dates, pitted
14 g (1 tablespoon) Unsalted Butter
1 teaspoon Ground Cardamom
1 teaspoon Sesame Seeds
Optional: 3/4 teaspoon Fennel Seeds

For egg wash: 1 Egg Yolk


Make the dough:

Heat the milk to 105°F-110°F–just warm when you test it with your finger. Do not overheat or the yeast will not survive! Put the milk in a glass measuring cup and add the yeast and a pinch of date sugar (if you have it). Let sit 5-10 minutes until you see some bubbles on top–evidence that the yeast are alive and active (Here is some more info about how yeast works, if you’re interested).

While you wait for the yeast to wake up, use a small saucepan to melt the butter with the vegetable oil. Once it’s hot, add the cardamom and nigella or black sesame seeds and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant (See here for more info on blooming spices). Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Measure the flour in the bowl of your stand mixer (have the dough hook attachment ready), and add the yeast/milk mixture and the butter/oil/spice mixture.

Knead with the dough hook (or by hand) for 3-5 minutes.  Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or loose plastic wrap and let rest for one hour.

Make the filling:

While the dough rests, make the filling. Again, melt the butter in a small saucepan and once hot, add the spices and heat a moment until fragrant. Remove from heat. Put the pitted dates in your food processor. Add the butter and spices and puree until smooth.

Roll the dough & filling:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare egg wash: in a small bowl or glass, mix an egg yolk with an equal amount of water. Get a pastry brush out.

Divide the dough into two equal pieces and use a rolling pin to roll the two halves into two rectangles of about 6 in. by 18″ (The dough should be about 1/8 in. thick). Next, remove the filling from the food processor and divide it into two equal portions. Place the first half between two large pieces of plastic wrap and use the rolling pin to roll the filling out into a rectangle the same size as the dough rectangles. Carefully flip the filling onto one of the pieces of dough. Repeat for the second half of the filling.

Roll each rectangle, long edge to long ege. Then cut the rolls into 1/2-in. to 1-in. pieces. Arrange them, spirals facing up, on sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Allow at least an inch of space between each kleicha.  Brush the top of each pastry with egg wash. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden in color. By then, your kitchen is going to be smelling amazing. Let the kleicha cool, and then enjoy with some tea or coffee!

Kleicha Iraqi Pastries / Cookie by Fruitcake Farmstand. Sweetened with fruit & no added sugar.