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Sudanese Kaak Cookies: Discover the Delights of Sudan

Sudanese Style Kaak is speical Eid cookie that evokes special memories of my childhood. I fondly remember my mom and aunts filling kitchen filled with warmth and laughter as they came together to prepare this wonderful cookie in time for eid. It’s a ritual, a moment of togetherness that I hold dear.

Kaak is a delightful shortbread-like cookie, lovingly infused with sesame and the aromatic Mahlab spice, which adds a unique flavour reminiscent of our Sudanese-Egyptian heritage. We would shape the dough into small, enticing cookies, sometimes stuffing them with dates or our favourite nuts. This culinary tradition was a testament to the rich tapestry of cultures in Sudan, particularly influenced by the Egyptian kitchen. My paternal grandmother was Egyptian, originally from Alexandria, and we were very fortunate to enjoy a wonderful appreciation of a Sudanese/ Egyptian kitchen.  Our meals were a harmonious blend of flavours, a shared expression of the diverse culinary influences that converged in Sudan. Kaak was not just a treat; it was a symbol of our interconnected heritage, a delicious reminder

Basic Ingredients for Sudanese Kaak Cookies


Clarified Butter: Provides a rich, nutty flavour and tender texture to the cookies. It’s preferred for its higher smoke point and lack of water content compared to regular butter, which helps in creating a crispier texture.

All-purpose Flour: Serves as the base structure of the cookies, providing the necessary gluten to hold the ingredients together.

Baking Powder: Acts as a leavening agent, helping the cookies rise and become fluffy.

Milk: Adds moisture and richness to the dough, improving the texture of the cookies.

Powdered Sugar: Sweetens the cookies and contributes to their tender texture due to its fine granules.

Milk Powder: Enhances the milk flavour and contributes to the browning and soft texture of the cookies.

Vanilla Extract: Adds a classic, sweet flavour and aroma that complements the other ingredients.

Mahlab Powder: Provides a unique flavour and is commonly used in Middle Eastern pastries.

Salt: Enhances the overall flavour of the cookies, balancing the sweetness.

Roasted Sesame Seeds: Add a nutty flavour and a subtle crunchiness to the texture.

Dates: Offer natural sweetness and a chewy texture to the filling.

Cinnamon Powder: Adds warmth and spice to the date filling, complementing its sweetness.

alternative ingredients

  • Instead of clarified butter, you can use regular unsalted butter or coconut oil for a different flavour profile.
  • Whole wheat flour or a gluten-free flour blend can replace all-purpose flour for a healthier option.
  • Almond milk or soy milk can be a good substitute for dairy milk.
  • Coconut sugar or maple sugar can be used in place of powdered sugar for a more natural sweetness.
  • If milk powder isn’t available, cream powder or skipping it altogether is an option, though it will slightly alter the texture.
  • Almond extract or orange blossom water can replace vanilla extract with a different fragrance.
  • If mahlab powder is hard to find, cardamom or nutmeg can be substituted, though the flavour will change.
  • Chopped nuts or chocolate chips can be alternatives to the date filling for a different taste and texture.

Preparation Tips for Sudanese Kaak Cookies

  • Ensure all ingredients are at room temperature for easier mixing and better texture.
  • Sift the dry ingredients to prevent lumps and ensure even distribution in the dough.
  • When mixing the butter with the dry ingredients, do so gently to avoid overworking the dough, which can lead to tough cookies.
  • For the date filling, ensure the dates are finely chopped or mashed for a smooth, easy-to-distribute consistency.

Serving Tips for Sudanese Kaak Cookies

  • Serve the cookies on a platter with a dusting of powdered sugar for an elegant presentation.
  • Pair with tea or coffee, which complements the flavours of the cookies.

storage tips

  • Store the cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature to maintain freshness.
  • Keep the cookies in a cool, dry place to prevent them from becoming soggy.
  • For longer storage, you can freeze the cookies. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet to freeze, then transfer to a freezer-safe container or bag.

Sudanese Kaak Cookies

Servings: 24 cookies
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 22 minutes


  • 600 g clarified butter
  • 1 kg all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 180 ml milk
  • 70 g powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp mahlab powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 50 g roasted sesame seeds

Date Filling

  • 120 g pitted dates
  • 1 tbsp clarified butter
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder


  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350℉).
  • To prepare the clarified butter: In a medium-sized saucepan, melt butter over low heat without stirring for 10 to 15 minutes, allowing the milk solids to separate from the fat. Remove the saucepan from the heat, let the butter stand for 5 minutes, then skim off the foam from the surface. Gently pour the yellow liquid into a separate bowl, leaving the milk solids in the pot.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, milk powder, mahlab powder, salt, and sesame seeds until fully combined.
  • Add the clarified butter to the dry ingredients and mix well until the mixture is evenly coated. Gradually add the milk mixed with vanilla, continuing to mix until the dough comes together.
  • Roll each piece of dough into a ball.
  • If making filled cookies, prepare the date filling by mixing pitted dates, butter (or ghee), and cinnamon powder until well combined.
  • If adding filling, press the centre with your thumb to create an indentation, add the filling, then enclose it with the dough, ensuring it is completely sealed.
  • Place the dough balls on a silicone mat or parchment-lined baking sheet, spaced an inch apart.
  • Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until the tops are blonde and the bottoms are light golden brown. Avoid over-baking, especially for filled cookies, to prevent the fillings from hardening.
  • Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Once cooled, dust the cookies with powdered sugar using a small sieve or roll them in a bowl of sugar to coat.
  • Serve or store the cookies in an airtight container. They will keep well at room temperature for several weeks.

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