The classic icun cookie from Somalia is a local variation of the Arabic sugar cookie baked in many countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The cookie is traditionally made for the celebration of Eid, the end of Ramadan, but it is baked year round for festive occasions. This round biscuit is similar to the English shortbread, but the icing sugar makes the texture firmer. The ghee gives the cookie a nice nutty flavor. I made the ghee myself, but you can buy it ready-made in organic and Middle Eastern shops. These icun cookies can also be made fancier with ground almonds which makes them a bit more crumbly. I quite like the firm structure of the basic cookie. Icun means ‘eat me’ in Somali. That should be no problem at all with these sweet little round balls with their navels of candied fruit.
Icun cookie from Somalia
for about 25 cookies
200 grams (2 sticks) butter
or use 125 grams (⅔ cup ± 1 tbs ghee)
100 grams (scant cup) icing sugar
280 grams (2 cups) flour
1 tsp cardamom
Melt the butter over low heat. Leave to bubble softly for about 5 min. or until most solids have sunk to the bottom.
Place a paper towel in a sieve and pour the melted butter in. Cool the strained ghee and leave to firm up in the fridge.
Beat the ghee for 1 min. with a electric mixer and add the powdered sugar.
Beat ± 4 min. until very light and creamy.
Add the flour, cardamom and a pinch of salt and quickly knead into a ball.
Leave to rest in the fridge for about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F. Roll balls of ± 20 grams of dough and press a piece of mixed peel in the middle.
Bake the icun cookies in the middle of the oven for ± 18 min. They should not brown much, but stay light.
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