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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Armenian Honey Cakes

Author Jane Haddam
Have you ever heard of Oldways - a nonprofit in Boston interested in helping people learn to enjoy foods related to the Mediterranean Diet? Or Jane Haddam, author of the Gregor Demarkian series of mystery novels?
I hadn’t... until recently.

I became acquainted with Oldways, when Georgia Orcutt, their program manager, wrote to me asking for a recipe for Armenian Honey Cakes. She was contacted by a woman who is an avid reader of Jane Haddam novels.

Apparently, the avid reader was intrigued by a line in one of Haddam’s recent books: “He had eaten an entire cookie tin full of honey cakes, and another cookie tin full of some hard cookie that he didn't know the name of.”
The reader was interested in finding a recipe for these “honey cakes”.

This is one determined person! The reader contacted the author, who directed her to the book, “Complete Armenian Cooking” (or something like that). The reader then checked with the Library of Congress to find that there was no recipe for honey cakes in that cookbook. Not wanting to bother the author again, Avid Reader found Georgia Orcutt at Oldways. Georgia didn’t have an appropriate recipe, began her own search and found ...... TheArmenianKitchen.com!

It was at this point that I began communicating with Avid Reader directly. I scoured through my cookbooks, including “The Complete Armenian Cookbook” by Alice Bezjian, which I thought might be the one she referred to earlier. I found nothing. Continuing my search, I came up with three possible recipes which I adapted for home preparation, 2 Armenian Honey Cookie recipes, and one for Spicy Armenian Honey Cakes. I did warn Avid Reader that none of these were tested in our kitchen, so I couldn’t vouch for their quality.

Here are the recipes I sent:

Recipe #1:


Armenian Honey Cookies


3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 egg
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups flour


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additional sugar for rolling


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1. Melt butter in a saucepan or microwave oven.


2. Place melted butter in a mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients (except additional sugar), and mix until well blended.


3. Chill for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator.


4. Shape dough into balls about the size of a walnut.


5. Place additional sugar in a bowl. Coat each ball in sugar.


6. Place balls on a lightly greased sheet. With your fingers, gently press each cookie to slightly flatten.


7. Bake in a preheated 375ºF oven for 8 to 10 minutes.


8. Cool on wire rack. When completely cooled, store in an airtight container.










Recipe #2:


Armenian Honey Cookies
Yield: about 4 dozen

Ingredients:


½ cup honey
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour (approximately)
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
dash salt


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1 egg white, beaten
walnut halves, optional


Directions:


1. Combine honey and sugar in a large bowl, mixing well. Add eggs; beat well.


2. Sift flour; set aside.


3. Sift baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and salt into honey-sugar mixture; stir well.


4. Add enough of the sifted flour to make a stiff dough.


5. Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 min. to 1 hour.


6. Remove ball of dough from refrigerator and flatten with your hand on it on a lightly floured work surface.


7. Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with a round, two-inch cookie cutter.


8. Place each round on a greased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Brush top with beaten egg white, and press a walnut half in the center of each, if desired.


9. Bake in a preheated 375ºF oven for 12 to 15 minutes.


10. Cool completely on a wire rack.


11. Store in an airtight container.


Spicy Armenian Honey Cakes
Yield: 20 to 25 cakes


Cake Ingredients:


4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ cups olive oil
½ cup sugar
3/4 cup orange juice
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
dash salt


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Filling Ingredients:


1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon


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Cake Directions:


1. In a medium bowl, sift flour with baking powder and baking soda; set aside.


2. In a large bowl beat olive oil and sugar; stir in orange juice, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt until well combined.


3. Gradually add flour mixture to oil mixture, mixing well until a soft dough has formed.


4. Cover bowl and let rest about 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350ºF.


5. In the meantime, prepare the walnut-cinnamon filling ingredients and set aside.


6. After 20 minutes, shape dough into walnut-sized balls, then flattening each.


7. Place ½ tsp walnut-cinnamon filling mixture in center of each.


8. Enclose the filling with the dough, pressing to seal.


9. Place on ungreased baking sheet; bake about 20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Cool.


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Syrup Ingredients:


½ cup sugar
1 cup honey
½ cup water
2 tsp lemon juice
1 small cinnamon stick


Syrup Directions:


In a medium pot, combine all syrup ingredients and bring to a boil, skimming any foam that comes to the surface. Cook about 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick; allow to cool a bit.


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Assembling Instructions:


Dip each cooled honey cake in warm syrup briefly and allowing excess to drip off. Place on serving platter.


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Topping Ingredients:


1 cup ground walnuts
½ tsp ground cinnamon
dash ground cardamom

Topping Directions:


Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle on each honey cake before serving.


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Avid Reader appreciated the recipes and decided the Spicy Honey Cakes seemed more like the small-formed cakes as described in Jane Haddam's book. She plans on giving it a go.

Once she does, I’ve asked her to report back with photos, if possible.


By the way, if any of you have another Armenian Honey Cake recipe, we would gladly post it. Avid Reader might prefer yours!















6 comments:

  1. I made recipe #1 - they were excellent. I recommend this recipe. Super easy too.

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  2. Hey there! I know someone from lebanon that makes a great armenian honey cake but let me tell you, it is a lot of work and a mess in the kitchen, but it is sooooo worth it. If i can get the measurments i will report back here and post it.

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  3. Dear Anonymous,
    If you could get the measurements, that would be terrific! You can also email the recipe to: robyn@thearmeniankitchen.com, then I can post it in a blog item for all to see. Thanks!

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  4. My daughter and I made 4 batches of recipe number 1 for our Girl Scout Thinking Day event tomorrow night. My daughter's group chose Armenia as their country to research. The cookies are so tasty. Even my picky eater loved them!

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    Replies
    1. I am delighted to hear this! Thanks for your encouraging comment.

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