If you are craving home made Turkish (or Middle Eastern) desserts, and you don't feel like spending hours in the kitchen, this, my friends, is the recipe for you. It is as easy as can be. Sekerpare (sheckerparé) means "sugar bit". And they are sweet as sugar indeed. It is very similar to a cookie, but it is soaked in delicious syrup, like most of the Turkish sweets. Keep in mind though that you need to make this one day, or at least 10-12 hours before you want to serve them.
Ingredients for 30-36 Sekerpare (one tray)
1 stick softened butter (100-110 g)
1 cup confectioner's sugar
4 egg yolks
4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract . I started using vanilla bean paste, it is still quite liquid,but the nice part is that you get the vanilla seeds as well, and I love that. It is also much cheaper than using whole vanilla beans.
1 small pinch of salt
30-36 whole , raw, blanched nuts of your choice ( hazelnuts, macadamia, pine nuts, almonds, pistachio)
For the syrup
3 cups sugar
3 cups water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Start by making the syrup. In a medium sauce pan mix the sugar, water and lemon juice, bring to a boil, then let it simmer for 10-15 minutes. Turn the heat off, and add the vanilla extract, mix and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl beat the sugar and butter for 2-3 minutes, then add 3 of the egg yolks and vanilla extract and mix. You will need one egg yolk to brush the top of the cookies.
Add the baking powder, salt and flour, mixing just until you get an oily soft dough, but hard enough not to stick to your hands, and to be able to make small balls out of it. Careful not to over work the dough. Adjust the flour quantity if needed. Even if it looks a little crumbly don't worry, it will get smooth when shaping it.
In order to have all the cookies same size, it is best to use a small ice cream scoop (25 mm or 20 mm), the one that you use for your regular cookies. Sekerpare must be the size of a walnut. Scoop some of the dough and using your hands and make balls out of it, placing them on a sheet pan, covered with parchment paper.
When done, using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops with egg yolk.
Place a nut in the middle of each cookie, pressing gently in order to flatten it a bit. Even if it cracks a little it is fine, if not even better, as it will be easier for it to absorb the syrup.
Bake the cookies for about 40 minutes.
Quickly move the cookies in a deeper, and smaller dish, so they fit snugly.
The secret to great Sekerpare is that you pour the lukewarm syrup on top of the hot, straight out of the oven cookies, then cover the dish. The syrup must not be cold, nor hot. The cookies must be hot.
Let the Sekerpare soak up the syrup overnight, on the counter. They will be ready to serve the second day.
I prefer most of my desserts with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top, and I recommend you try Sekerpare this way as well, it goes really well. Or with fresh whipped cream.
Ramazan Bayraminiz mubarek bolsun!