a very special cookie.

So now my recipe process is getting down to the real nitty-gritty: I’m working on the recipes that are the hardest, the least developed, the most sensitive to high-altitude baking, the ones that just won’t turn out quite right…needless to say I’ve been experiencing a bit of baking fatigue.

Case in point: my attempts to recreate a popular Moroccan cookie, a small, light, shortbread-y delight that works beautifully with mint tea. My friend Fatiha described it as “Cookies of Four” because in Moroccan units, the ingredients are all in fours or proportions of fours to one another.

The idea is that the recipe is easy to remember and easy to make – but upon examining the scrap of paper that I’d scribbled her instructions on over a year ago, I realized that I had no idea how much flour to put in the cookie dough, because that detail just wasn’t included in the original recipe. I also realized I’d be working with a totally different type of oven than I had in Morocco, that I’d need to estimate how much of an American baking cup is in a standard Moroccan tea glass, and that I’d actually never made cookies before.

This might seem totally absurd to many of you, especially those for whom I once baked dozens of elaborately constructed croissants and golden-brown challah loaves in college (kneading being a great way to work out stress). I mean, I have at least one cake recipe that frequently elicits marriage proposals. I am a baker. I love to bake.

…but not cookies. Everyone from college roommates to fellow participants in the Great Taghazout Beach Vacation of July 2009 will tell you that I don’t make cookies, I make cookie dough. And then I eat it.

heaven on earth. with cookie dough.

So this cookie recipe took a very, very long time and many batches to figure out. But I did it. So now I am going to share it. And I’m not sure I need to make cookies ever again. Tomorrow I’ll add a photograph of the cookie graveyard I created along the way…

Cookies of Four

This recipe will yield, oh, a few dozen cookies.


1 T baking powder
A generous pinch of salt
2 oz. butter, softened but not melted! Not melted! Don’t melt your butter!
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup sugar, plus more for dusting
1/3 cup dried coconut
All purpose flour, and this is weird, but you want 1 1/5 cups. Try 1 and a quarter, minus a few spoonfuls…or, if you have a scale, weigh out 170 grams.
1 egg

For the glaze:
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp milk

Combine all those ingredients and mix well.

Place the dough in the freezer for an hour; mix the glaze while it’s chilling and preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

Roll the dough into very small balls (about 3/4″ in diameter) and roll them in sugar to coat them. Space evenly on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 8-9 minutes.

Glaze the cookies and allow them to cool before serving.

Many thanks to my dear friend Fatiha Rahali for her recipe (I should add that mine is very much adapted from hers…and that you mustn’t expect these to taste exactly like those Moroccan cookies we all know so well. But it’s as close as I’m gonna get).

**Update** So it turns out this recipe makes more like 4 or 5 dozen cookies. Ahhh!!!

5 thoughts on “a very special cookie.

  1. Oh wow, it never occurred to me that you never actually baked cookies. However, I do enjoy many nights made less stressful by the addition of raw cookie dough. :) We must recreate that tradition.

  2. I know, right? It never occurred to me either. How is it that I never managed to bake cookies? The only explanation I can come up with is the existence of cookie dough – which I still maintain is almost always better than the cookies themselves.

  3. Thank you for figuring this one out. I never got the recipe from anyone and have been craving a taste of Morocco. I will definitely give them a try.

    1. I hope they turn out ok – they’re not perfect but it’s a pretty good approximation. Definitely let me know how yours turn out!

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