Ever bought an exciting new ingredient and then wondered what on earth you were going to do with it? Welcome to my world… At the end of 2016 we took a family trip to Israel, and as part of that we spent a few hours on a tasting tour of the Levinsky Market in Tel Aviv. Our last stop on the tour was an amazing spice shop, where I bought a number of different things including hawaij l’cafe or ‘hawaij for coffee’.
Hawaij is a Yemenite spice blend that comes in two varieties. The savoury one, hawaij l’marak or ‘hawaij for soup’ contains turmeric, black pepper, cardamom, coriander and cumin. I use it a lot in soups (naturally) but it also goes really well with fish, and is a fabulous seasoning for rice.
I hadn’t come across the sweet hawaij for coffee before, but it smelled amazing so of course I had to get a bagful. It has a wonderful aroma of ginger and cardamom, and the internet suggests it also contains fennel seeds or aniseed, and possibly also nutmeg, cloves or cinnamon. Mmmm.
Anyway, having bought the stuff and brought it home, I then had to figure out what I was going to do with it! After a number of discarded ideas I decided to keep it simple first time around, and explore the flavour in a straightforward cookie/biscuit.
Given that the hawaij was designed to compliment the flavour of coffee, I also decided to add a little coffee flavour to the recipe too. Caffeinated cookies. Blimey. (Don’t worry, they aren’t very caffeinated. Kipper ate some without incident.)
These delicious biscuits are super easy to make, and based on the recipe for cinnamon & vanilla cookies I made for Kipper’s party a while ago. They are crisp yet slightly chewy, and are terrific dunked in coffee (or tea!), as they soften nicely but don’t dissolve into a pile of mushy crumbs. Perfect.
As you can see, I also got carried away trying out my new camera lenses, including the ‘macro’ lens. Super-close-up photos of biscuits, anyone?
If you don’t have ready access to an amazing Tel Avivian spice vendor, you could try mixing up your own hawaij l’cafe. I found this recipe on turntablekitchen.com although I think I would leave out the cinnamon and add something aniseedy instead. Simply mix 2 tbsp ground ginger, 2 tbsp ground cardamom, 1/2 tsp each of ground nutmeg, ground cloves and ground cinnamon. Store in an airtight container. Lovely!
Makes 18-24 cookies, depending on size.
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- 1 tsp hawaij for coffee spice mix
- 1/2 tsp ground coffee
- 50g margarine (or butter)
- 50g caster sugar
- 200g plain flour
- 85g golden syrup
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- icing sugar for dusting (optional)
- First, grind the hawaij and coffee in a pestle and mortar to give a fine powder.
- Cream the margarine and sugar, then add the flour, syrup, bicarb, and spice-coffee powder, and mix to a dough. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30-60 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 190C. Line baking sheets with baking parchment.
- Roll out the dough between two sheets of baking parchment, to a thickness of 4-5mm. Cut out cookies using a 6cm diameter fluted round cutter.
- Transfer the biscuits to the baking sheets and bake in the oven at 190C for around 8 minutes, until just coloured.
- Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes to allow the cookies to firm up slightly. Transfer to wire racks and leave till cold. Dust with icing sugar if desired.
- Eat and enjoy! These biscuits will keep for at least a week in an airtight storage box.
- To make your own hawaij for coffee spice mix, combine 2 tbsp ground ginger, 2 tbsp ground cardamom, and 1/2 tsp each of ground nutmeg, ground cloves and either ground cinnamon or ground fennel seeds/aniseed.