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Halwat el Tabaâ | Algerian Citrus & Anise Cut-Out Cookies

بِسْــــــــــــــــــــــمِ اﷲِارَّحْمَنِ ارَّحِيم
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته
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If it's shortbread in England, Chocolate Chip Cookies in the US, Kaak in Lebanon, Plätzchen or Keks in Germany, småkake in Norway, Galletas in Spain, Biscotti in Italy or Kurabiye in Turkey, each country has their own "favorite cookie".

Cookies are something we can attribute to the Persians who brought to Arabia and than later the Mediterranean via the spice trade and Crusaders who brought with them the cooking techniques and ingredients of Persia and Arabia. No wonder that the Middle East, Turkey and North Africa produce some of the most attractive, exquiste and elegant cookies ever.  

While there are myrid of exquiste Algerian cookies out there I could show you, today I'm going to present the original and most favorite. Halwat el Tabaâ (Halwat el Taba3, halwa tabaa, halwa ettaba3حلوة الطابع, also called Torno in the region of Oran is one of the most popular cookies in Algeria. It's an Algerian cut-out cookie accompanied to any weekday afternoon coffee but also proudly present at special occasion like Ramadan or Eid. It's super, super simple to make - a cookie you can easily prepare with little hands. My children love anything that involves a rolling pin, cookie cutters aaaaand SPRINKLES!

Halwat el Tabaâ  while it may look at your run of the mill average homey sugar cookie it's actually a exhalirating citrusy luscious treat. It's a lush aromatic cookie made with luxurious fruity Algerian olive oil, citrus and anise. Delightfully crispy on the outside and pleasantly dry and slighly dry inside it's pretty hard to resist dipping and dunking. 

Traditional Halwat el Tabaâ  would have been decorated with sesame seeds and/or sliced almonds but in more modern times the topping has become more and more creative. Appealing to children Algerians use sprinkles, chocolate vermicelli or pearl sugar decorations.

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Halwat el Taba }
Algerian Citrus & Anise Cut-Out Cookies 

fragantly crispy outside and citrusy & anise inside algerian cut-out cookies 

YIELD: 40-80 cookies depending on the size of the cookie cutters
ACTIVE PREP TIME: 10-15 mins 
COOK TIME: 15-20 mins

MIXING BOWL, whisk or electric mixer, ROLLING PIN, cookie cutters, baking sheet, 


  • 3 large eggs
  • 500-550g 3½ - 3¾ cup flour – depending on your flour's quality
  • 125ml - ½ cup neutral oil, like sunflower
  • 200g - 1 cup sugar
  • 1 pk 15g – 2tsp baking powder
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 capful (about 1 TBS) orange blossom water
  • ½ tsp sweet anise seeds, ground (optional)

  • egg wash: 1 large eggs + about 1 tsp water
  • sprinkles and granulated sugar (optional)
·         OR one of these … sesame seeds, sliced almonds, chocolate vermicelli, desiccated coconut, pearled sugar  (optional)

    PREHEAT the oven to 180° - 350°F.

    SIFT the flour and baking powder together. Set aside.

    CREAM the sugar with the olive oil and eggs in a large mixing bowl, until creamy. Mix in the lemon zest, vanilla, ground sweet anise and orange blossom water.

    FOLD in the flour and baking powder gently. The dough should come together as a soft and malleable dough. Shouldn’t be sticky. If needed, gradually add more flour – depending on your flour. Form the dough into a ball.

    FLOUR your work surface and roll out the dough using a rolling pin to have about a 1 cm disk.Using cookie cutters cut out different shapes and forms, of your choice. Place the cookies on a parchment paper or silicon pad lined baking sheet. Make sure you have enough space between the cookies, as these cookies do rise quite a bit. Repeat until you have used all the dough. With the last little bit of dough I usually make a ball and flatten.

    PREPARE the egg wash by lightly beating the egg and water together. Brush the top of the cookies with the egg wash. Sprinkle your desired topping (sprinkles for me) into each cookie. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C320°F and bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden on top.

    REMOVE from the oven and allow to cool before serving.

    Serve with your favorite coffee or cocoa hot beverage!

    These cookies actually taste better the next day. And storage nicely for up to one week in an air-tight container. You can freeze the dough for later, if you wrap it well. To use, simply take out and place on the counter to thaw out for 2 hours. Roll, cut and bake as above.

    You can leave the anise out if you don't particularly like the taste of anise. Nowadays Algerians are opting to just flavor these cookies with just vanilla and lemon zest.
    You may also find some Algerian bakers using orange zest instead of or with the lemon zest and even some just using vanilla as the flavoring. I prefer this traditional way myself!

     CATEGORIES:  bars and cookies, algerian sweet; ramadan, eid, holidays, kid's fav

    SOURCE: khalti kheira

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