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Holiday Cookies – Kaak el Abbass

This recipe was shared by Mohammad Nehme from Nabatieh, South of Lebanon, according to whom, these cookies have been known for more than 1,400 years when pilgrims used to travel on camels or on foot for a long journey of several months. These cookies were consumed during these long trips as they had a long shelf-life of two to three months. The cookies are called “Abbass cookies” in attribution to Imam Ali son of Al-Imam Al-Hussein, known as ‘Abbass’, who used to prepare a flavorful dough.

Kaak el Abbass cookies sold at a local bakery

These traditional cookies are prepared in South Lebanon on different occasions and holidays, especially during Eid al-Adha and weddings. Traditionally, the cookies are distributed to the poor during Ashura, and women use to gather for kneading and baking. Today, Kaak el-Abbass is still taken as provisions during pilgrimages and prepared during holidays, but its preparation is no longer a traditional process as it used to be. Most people today buy them from local bakeries, and only few families still bake at home.

Total servings: 4 kg of cookies

Preparation time: 40 min and a full day for the dough to rest


2 cups plain flour

2 cups dunst flour (or fine semolina)

2 tbsp. of cookies’ spices (nutmeg, anise, turmeric, ginger and cinnamon)

½ kilo butter

250 ml vegetable oil

250 ml olive oil

2 kg sugar

A dash of vanilla

A dash of backing powder

2 tbsp. of powdered milk

1 ½ tbsp. of yeast

Hot water

Preparation steps:

  1. Mix the flour and dunst with butter and oil
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients
  3. Add hot water and knead to obtain a coherent and soft dough (slightly softer than bread dough)
  4. Put the dough in a bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave to rest for 12h
  5. Shape the dough into balls then flatten them
  6. Use special “kaak stamps” to make the traditional impressions
  7. Bake in a pre-heated oven until light golden brown (about 20 – 30 min)

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