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Ease of Preparation: Moderate

Preparation Time: 60 min
chill dough 1 hour

Cook Time: 25-30 min

Servings: makes 24 cookies

Recipe By: Amy Riolo

From:  Nile Style
Used with permission of Amy Riolo

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Aswan Date Cookies

When I saw these date-filled cookies piled high in the bakeries all over Aswan, they immediately reminded me of a rustic version of my grandmother's Calabrian (Southern Italian) fig cookies that she makes every Christmas, and the famous wild cherry stuffed Neapolitan cookies. They look like plump, over-stuffed fig bars and make the perfect snack. The sweet date filling is a delicious surprise. These cookies can be frozen in an airtight container for up to a month.

Cookie Dough
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature (reserve wrappers for greasing baking sheets)
1/2 cup sugar
1  large whole egg
2  large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup semolina
1 1/2 cups unbleached {all-purpose flour}
pinch of salt
Date Filling
2 1/2 pounds dates, pitted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1  egg yolk mixed with a teaspoon of water
1/4 cup sesame seeds, optional
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar; add the whole egg, egg yolks, and vanilla and mix well. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour in the semolina, flour and salt. Continue mixing until dough comes together. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

Grease two baking sheets and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Make the filling by combining the dates, cinnamon, and butter in a food processor. Pulse on and off until a paste forms. If mixture seems too thick, add a few tablespoons of water to obtain a smooth paste.

After the dough has finished chilling, use a rolling pin to roll it out into a 10x15-inch rectangle on a lightly floured work surface. Make 4 equally spaced vertical lines down the rectangle. Make 3 horizontal lines going across the rectangle, making 12 equal-sized pieces. Fill the center of each piece with 1 heaping teaspoon of the date mixture. Using a bench scraper/pastry cutter, lift the edges of the dough squares around the top of the filling and roll over to cover. Seal the edges leaving the ends exposed. After they have all been filled, cut each one in half and place 1-inch apart on baking sheets.

Brush the tops of the cookies with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Let cool on the cookie sheets. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

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