Iran: Nan-e Berenji

Nan-e Berenji (Cardamom Rice Cookies)

For Syrup:
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 tablespoon rose water*

For Batter:
3 egg yolks
1 tbs sugar
1 cup clarified butter or ghee*
1/2 cup corn oil
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
3 cups rice flour
2 tbs poppy seeds or roughly chopped pistachios

Combine the sugar and water in a pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 4 minutes, being careful not to let the mixture boil over. Remove from the heat, add the rose water, and set aside to cool. This syrup should be room temperature and not too thick. Set aside 1 cup and bottle the remainder for future use.

In a warm mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks with 1 tablespoon sugar and beat well, until creamy.

In another mixing bowl, combine the clarified butter, oil, cardamom, and rice flour. Mix well for a few minutes then add the egg yolk mixture and mix a few seconds. Add the 1 cup syrup from created earlier and knead well for a few seconds, or until the dough no longer sticks to your hands. This will create a snow-white dough. Allow the dough to cool for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment.

Take a spoonful of dough, roll it into a ball the size of a hazelnut, flatten it slightly, and place it on the cookie sheet. Repeat, leaving 2 1/2 inches between each ball. With a fork or the edge of a cookie cutter, draw geometric patterns on the cookies and sprinkle them with poppy seeds or chopped pistachios. You may also use a cookie press (readily available in most cookware stores) to stamp a design in the dough.

Place the cookie sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake the cookies 10 to 15 minutes. Keep in mind that the cookies should be white when they are done.

Remove the cookies from the oven and cool. Lift the cookies off the baking paper carefully: They crumble very easily.

Arrange the cookies in a pyramid on a footed cake dish.

Recipe from Najmieh Batmanglij's A Taste of Persia,

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