In my culture, Christmas isn’t Christmas without a traditional Middle Eastern cookie called Kalecha, a light and crisp dough stuffed with a sweet filling. Some are stuffed with walnuts, others are stuffed with dates, and some are rolled and cut in different shapes. There are several variations, all delicious and without a doubt a treat you will receive when visiting family around the holidays. If you’re lucky enough to have a mother and/or grandmother that make these, you will enjoy the sweet smells of sugar, rose water and cardamom as they bake and choose from mountains of warm Kalecha cookies fresh out of the oven! If you like helping in the kitchen, you can surely participate in the assembly line of steps to make these delectable cookies. My father was the very best with his cookie designs.
I was inspired to make a recipe with the same flavors minus the long hours of labor and without the flour, butter and sugar (Sorry Mom, this generation is a bit more health conscious). There’s nothing like the real thing, but this is a delightful version that you will love! Give this Middle Eastern inspired recipe a try with its aromatic flavors in a small, yet satisfying bite! Enjoy!
Rose Water, Cardamom and Walnut Date Bites
A traditional Middle Eastern cookie that is exchanged around the holidays called Kalecha inspired me to create this recipe. These delightful and festive round bites are easy to make using the same flavors minus the flour, butter and sugar.
2 cups Raw Unsalted Walnuts Halves + ¾ cup chopped
¾ teaspoon Finely Ground Cardamom
½ teaspoon Rose Water
2 cups Good Quality Dates, pitted (Medjool Recommended)
½ cup Raw Shredded Unsweetened Coconut + additional if needed
Place shredded coconut into a small bowl and set aside.
Place two cups walnut halves in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add cardamom and rose water and pulse. Gradually add the dates while the machine is running and pulse until well combined. The mixture should easily stick together, if needed add more dates.
Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and stir in ¾ cup chopped walnuts until thoroughly combined. (Add additional nuts if preferred)
One by one, form mixture into 1-inch round balls, making a smooth outer texture using the palms of your hands then place in the bowl of shredded coconut generously coating on all sides. Place bites in a large sealable container lined with parchment paper, layering with additional parchment paper if needed.
Seal container and freeze until cold. Store in the freezer and serve cold.
Makes 16-18 Bites
Download Recipe (PDF)