Medley of Persian New Year Sweets

by Marjan

Eight years ago while Anja was still living in Los Angeles, I invited her to celebrate our Persian New Years with my family. Along with fifty guests, we introduced her to our culture of celebrating the first day of spring with family, tradition, and of course food! Back then, I promised to give her my mother’s recipes for sweets prepared for the Persian New Year celebration. Finally, eight years later, here it is; better late than never.

 At my house, we rarely bake or prepare desserts. However, a couple of weeks before the commencement of spring and the Persian New Year festivities, my mother bakes traditional Persian sweets. It is an all day event with my father and I helping her; well, let’s say, I help my mother whip the batter, wash dishes, etc. and my father volunteers to taste test! It’s a hard job, but he selflessly devotes himself to the task of 'quality control'!

The combination of aromas such as fresh hyacinth (flowers that last for a couple of weeks in the spring used in the Persian New Year celebrations), cardamom, rosewater, and sweets baking makes my heart sing “Eidetoon Piroz”or "Sal-le No Mobarak"; which Iranians say to one another for “Happy New Year”! You don’t have to be Persian to celebrate the first day of spring or to enjoy baking my mother’s recipe for sweets. We can all celebrate the gifts of spring; a fresh start for nature and the human spirit.

May this spring bring forth in your lives all the blessings of a fresh start to health, love and celebration!

Happy Persian New Year!

Raisin Cookies (‘noon keskmeshi’)

100g flour
100g butter-room temperature
75g sugar
3-4 tablespoons of small dark raisins (currents)
3 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon rose water (optional)

With an electric mixer whip well butter, sugar, vanilla and rosewater (if using) until a smooth texture is achieved. One by one add eggs until well blended. Finally add flour and mix for an additional minute. Fold in raisins and allow batter to rest for 15 minutes. Heat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Using parchment paper to line a cookie sheet, spoon 1 teaspoon of mixture onto cookie sheet, spacing each individual spoonfuls so that once the cookie bakes, they don’t run into each other (approximately 2 inches apart each).Bake for 35-40 minutes until a light golden brown exterior is formed. Prepare the rest of the batch until complete.

Walnut Cookies (‘noon gerdooee’)

200g crushed walnuts
2 egg yolks
1 egg
3 tablespoon sugar
½ tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Using an electric blender, mix whole egg, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla until you achieve a whitish, smooth consistency. Fold in walnuts. On a parchment lined cookie sheet, drop ½ teaspoon of batter inches apart and bake for 20 minutes.

Rice Cookies (‘noon berengee’)

500g rice flour
125g butter
½ tsp ground cardamom
90g powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon rosewater
1 egg (yolk and white separated)
poppy seeds

Using an electric mixer blend butter, powdered sugar, cardamom, rosewater, and egg yolk until mixture is smooth. In a separate bowl, whip egg whites until a thick white foam is achieved. Add egg whites to egg yolk mixture and fold in rice flower to form dough. Roll dough into a ball and wrap with plastic and store in fridge to rest for a minimum of two hours.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper; form one teaspoon of dough into a round ball and place on cookie sheet. Using a small spoon or thimble, gently apply pressure on top of the round dough in 2-3 areas to slightly flatten and decorate ball. Sprinkle poppy seeds on top. Finish patch and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes until a light golden crust is formed.

Almond Cookies (‘hajee badoomee’)

300g flour
1 cup almonds-finely ground in a food processor
200g butter
¾ cup powdered sugar
2 tsp ground cardamom
Pistachio slivers to garnish

In a bowl, swift almond, flour, sugar and cardamom. Add butter and mix with hand until batter no longer sticks to fingers. Place dough in fridge for 2-4 hours.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Roll into small sized balls ½ teaspoon of dough. Using a thimble, slightly flatten ball and decorate. Sprinkle with pistachio slivers and bake for 20-35 minutes until no longer soft in the middle.

Honey Candy (‘sohan asalee’)

125g of almond slivers
125g sugar
60g  honey
30 g water
30g vegetable oil
30g unsalted butter
1/2 tsp ground saffron
2 tablespoons of ground

Have prepared on kitchen counter aluminum foil paper cut out the size of two baking sheets. In a stainless steel medium size frying pan, add sugar, honey, water, butter and oil (do not stir). Turn heat on to medium and once the sugar begins to dissolve stir a few times until a light yellow color appears. As the sugar dissolves, turn heat up to medium high to achieve amber color. Now stir frequently. Once an amber color is reached add almonds. Continue to stir and as the color changes from amber to a darker amber, add crushed saffron. Stir for an additional minute. Quickly remove from heat to not burn sugar, and spoon onto aluminum foil one teaspoon size at a time and garnish with ground pistachio.  It is best if you can have assistance with garnishing pistachios; as you pour out candy to have another person follow and sprinkle pistachios on top. Once honey and sugar cools, it will make it challenging to have pistachios adhere to pieces, therefore, time is of essence.

Warning: handle caramelized sugar carefully as it will cause serious skin burns. Also, this candy is very sticky and does stick to dental restorations (personal experience, and I know better than that! Yes, even dentists are tempted with candy!!)

From our partner: LO+JUNE

From our partner: LO+JUNE
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