Mehndi Inspired Spice 'Hand' Cookies

I give you my hand - an excellent iftar treat or proposal idea! My sister and I have a Ramadan tradition of making cookies for friends ...

I give you my hand - an excellent iftar treat or proposal idea!

My sister and I have a Ramadan tradition of making cookies for friends and family during the fasting season. We already made crescent shaped orange cookies for schools and mini iftar packs. Now we've got something really unique for our friends too. Warmly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, these gingery cookies give maximum comfort - just serve with coffee or milk.

Recipe and method below.

I saw a mehndi hand cookie by Sprinkle Bakes a while ago and thought the mustard and cloves in the recipe, although just a pinch, might be an odd taste. They don't detract any of the flavour at all, in fact, each ingredient adds another layer. Here is my version of the recipe that makes a ready-to-roll dough without refrigerating.

Makes 5 hands 18cm long • Halal/Vegetarian • Preheat oven to 200˚ C

  • 175g whole wheat (all purpose) flour. You can use self-raising flour in which case omit the baking soda.
  • 2 heaped teaspoons ground ginger powder (10g)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (5g)
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice - or mixed spice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (too much is makruh)
  • ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 100g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses/treacle - or 3 tablespoons of organic honey
  • 1 medium egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract paste or seeds
  1. Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, allspice, nutmeg, mustard, and cloves into a large bowl. 
  2. In another bowl, beat the butter until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. 
  3. Add the brown sugar to this and beat for 1 minute. 
  4. Add the molasses/treacle or honey; beat until fluffy and combined, about 3 minutes. 
  5. Add the egg; beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Reduce the whisk speed to low; beat in the vanilla until well combined.
  6. Now add the flour mixture and beat on low speed just to blend or use a wooden spoon because the mixture gets really stiff. Then your hand to gather the dough together.
  7. Roll the dough into a log. Divide in half. Form each half into a ball; flatten into a disk shape. Wrap each disk between two sheets of baking parchment (waxed paper). DO AHEAD: Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Keep it chilled.
  8. Position rack in centre of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  9. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out the dough between the parchment to ⅛-inch (3-4mm) thickness.
Tip: There are plenty of hand cookie cutters are available and you could cut any other shape you want. Trace your own hand onto baking parchment or use this hand template to cut out your cookie (18cm long).

  1. Cut out cookies using the template or decorative cutter and transfer to the prepared sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. 
  2. Gather the dough scraps, roll out again, and cut more cookies, repeating until all dough is used. If you are not icing the cookies, decorate with sprinkles or other sugar toppings if desired. 
  3. Bake 1 sheet at a time until the cookies are firm on top and slightly darker around edges, up to12 minutes for larger cookies 18cm long.
  4. Cool the cookies completely on a rack. Line baking sheets with fresh parchment as needed. 
  5. Decorate the cookies as desired.
Natural coloured gel is the easiest way to paint 'mehndi' patterns direct onto your cookies. Photo © Sprinkle Bakes

Paint Henna Designs

A number of organic and halal food colourings are available from shops selling baking supplies. You can use brown icing from a tube, black gel food colouring (pictured), or natural black liquid colouring which comes in a little shot bottle, ready to use direct or thickened with 30g icing sugar.

With a sterile watercolour paint brush, decorate the cookies and leave to dry completely. I saved a few mehndi patterns to a word document which you can print out and copy.

Try out other shapes depending on your theme or recipient's taste like these Indian paisley shape sugar cookies from Sweet Artichoke. Cake Central designed some lovely mehndicookies in bright pastel colours

Ta-da! Try it out eco-family. Do post a photo on the The Eco Muslim Facebook page, I'd love to see how yours turn out.

Peace + Eco-jihad.


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