Date-filled Pastries ,
My Tribute To Cleopatra
My book club meets once a month. It’s a diverse group, derived of women from many parts of the world. There are women from the UK, many parts of the US, Germany, and Norway. Many that have traveled to and/or lived in Africa, throughout Europe, Japan and the Middle East (to name a few). We tend to read books with settings in many different places in the world. It is interesting to see these books from a world viewpoint. As you can imagine, it leads to very interesting discussions when someone has lived in the place you are reading about. It gives an insight into the author’s subject matter that allows you to feel what living there would be like. There is an old adage that states, you can’t know a man until you have walked in his shoes. I feel blessed to be a part.
When we meet, we bring a dish to pass. Maybe that’s “island speak”, a more familiar term may be “potluck”. Early on, in the group, we made a choice to try to tie the food we made, into the theme of the book. I wanted to make baklava, as I discovered it was actually invented by the Egyptians. But, island life what it is! I decided to make something more attainable and affordable. I looked through Egyptian recipes but couldn’t come up with anything that seemed quite right. So I created this Date-filled Pastry in honor of the book we were reading this month, “Cleopatra” by Stacy Schiff. A book that brings out the facts about this enigmatic queen’s reign including the opulent palaces, intrigue surrounding her relationships with Caesar and Mark Antony, and her demise. It gives you an insight into this powerful queen’s life derived from fact, not fiction.
As I learned from the book, during Cleopatra’s time dates grown in Egypt were the best in the world. I think they still are but dates definitely needed to be included in the recipe. I put rosewater in the pastry to commemorate Cleopatra’s parties, where the guests would be knee deep in roses. Then, after they were baked, I drizzled them with honey, and sprinkled them with toasted walnuts. Honey and nuts were also very plentiful in Egypt. A pastry fit for a queen, if I do say so myself. They were enjoyed!
So without further ado, here is the recipe;
: Date-filled Pastry
: Sweet but not overpowering this stand mixer recipe has all the intrigue of ancient Egypt. Date filling, rose water, honey, nuts, and citrus it’s a veritable trip down the Nile.
- 6 oz Dates, by-weight, chopped
- ¾ Cup water
- 1.5oz (one shot) Triple Sec, Cointreu, or Grand Marnier
- 2 Tablespoons Honey
- 1 Cup AP Flour
- 1 stick butter
- 3 Tablespoons Reserved water mixture
- 3 teaspoons rose water (available in the Middle Eastern section of the super market)
- 1 egg beaten
- Honey Glaze
- 1 Cup icing sugar
- 3 Tablespoons Honey
- 2 Tablespoons Milk
- ½ Cup Walnuts, finely chopped and toasted
- Place chopped dates in small saucepan.
- Mix water, alcohol, and honey in measuring cup.
- Reserve 3 tablespoons of the mixture, and put the rest into the saucepan with the dates.
- Heat on medium low, stirring often, until the dates begin to breakdown and the water is absorbed. About 5 minutes.
- Allow to cool.
- In the meantime, make the pastry.
- Place the 1 Cup of flour In your mixer bowl.
- Cut cold butter into small pieces and place in bowl with flour.
- With paddle attachment mix on speed 2 until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
- Add the 3 Tablespoons reserved water mixer and the 3 teaspoons rosewater
- Mix until it just comes together. You want the fat globs to stay intact and create a flakier pastry.
- Remove the dough from the mixer bowl and place on plastic
wrap. Flatten into a disc and wrap well.
- Place wrapped disc in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. No longer than 2 hours.
- Prepare a surface with a dusting of flour. I usually use a cutting board covered with wax paper for ease of clean-up.
- Roll out the dough to ¼ inch thickness.
- Cut with round cookie or biscuit cutter. I lieu of this you could use a drinking glass.
- Take round and brush with beaten egg.
- Place ½ teaspoon of date filling in the center of each round
- Fold round in half.
- Crimp edge to seal.
- Place on baking sheet.
- Continue previous 5 steps until all rounds have been folded and
- Brush tops with remainder of egg. This will produce a shine when they are baked.
- Bake for 20 minutes at 400F until golden brown.
- Make honey glaze.
- Sift icing sugar into medium-sized mixing bowl
- Add honey, stirring until incorporated
- Add milk 1 Tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is achieved.
- Toast walnuts in a pan on the stovetop until browned. This takes a few minutes but they burn quickly so don’t lose track of them.
- Drizzle glaze over cooled pastry.
- Sprinkle with toasted, chopped nuts.
- Makes about 24.
- Active prep time 40 minutes
- Total prep time 90 minutes.
Preparation time: 1 hour(s) 30 minute(s)
Cooking time: 25 minute(s)
Microformatting by hRecipe.
I hope you’ll try this recipe. I think you’ll really enjoy it! I hope as well that you have a wonderful group of intelligent women to share them with. If you are interested in starting a book club of your own, you can get some ideas here. It’s a fun and interesting activity! We have had meetings where we all dressed in burkas to see what it feels like. We have had Taiwanese feasts and Italian feasts.
To quote an article brought in by one of our members on how to keep your book club happy, “Seduce them with food”.