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July 22, 2008 Recipe #3: Helawa shbbekia

Helawa shbbekia are fried and sugar-coated pastry knot cookies, from the verb shbbk, to tangle. If I ever open my own pastry shop, these will be the Why Not Fried Knots.
As always, the amounts are an approximation.

1 ½ C milk (hleeb)
2 C butter (a 1-lb brick) (zbda)
6-8 C flour (awrH)
¾ C sugar (samida)
Oil for deep-frying (zitoon)
Coat with your choice of:
Confectioners’ sugar (sukkar glasay)
Shredded coconut (koko)
Honey (tamimt)
Sesame seeds (gnglan)

Bring milk to full boil, then pour into broad, flat dish. Melt butter. While the butter is melting, add the sugar and 3 C of flour to the milk. Combine them slowly and carefully. Add in the melted butter and the rest of the flour, a little bit at a time. Knead them all together. Ultimately, the dough should have the consistency of heavy pie crust. Shape it into four balls. Set three aside, and roll out the fourth on a floured surface.

Roll it thin – about the thickness of pie crust – and then use a cookie-cutter to cut it into shapes. We used a cookie cutter that created a sort of lattice shape, which was then twisted into a knot. (Only Xalti knew how to do this at first, but Ama and I got it after several tries and many many demonstrations.) Repeat with the other balls of dough.

Heat the oil to almost boiling. Drop in the cookies. They are done when golden-brown and puffy. Lift out with a slotted spoon or spatula. Set on paper towels*. Coat with powdered sugar, shredded coconut, or honey. If honey, sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Serves dozens, inshallah.

* OK, they didn’t do this, but I will if I ever make these again. There’s already plenty of fat in them – might as well let a little get absorbed off.

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