These tender Cardamom-Walnut Cookies hailing from Azerbaijan are especially popular on spring holiday Novruz, when they often adorn the khoncha, a holiday tray, along with other festive savory and sweet bakes, including the three indispensables – shorgoghal, baklava, and shekerbura.
The roll-ups are called mutekke, taking their name from the traditional tube-shaped pillow, mutekke, used to lean on at leisure. Sometimes, the cookies are called by their Russian name (in plural) mutaki.
The mutekke are filled with ground walnuts, slightly sweetened with sugar and generously perfumed with aromatic cardamom, crushed in a hevengdeste, or mortar and pestle.
I’ve taught this recipe in a few of my cooking classes, and the cookies were very much loved each time. They are super easy to make, and they vanish fast because they are so good.
Happy Novruz and Happy Spring to all of you!
In the past, I used to make the filling with finely ground walnuts, but with later testings, I realized that coarsely chopped walnuts work better – they add a nice, pleasant crunch that complements the tender shell of the cookies. The picture above shows the filling with finely ground walnuts. Choose to make it with the coarse. So much better!
- 2¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 4 ounces cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 large egg yolks
- ½ cup walnuts, coarsely ground
- ¼ cup granulated sugar (increase to taste but use no more than ½ cup)
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom (or to taste)
- ¼ cup powdered sugar, for coating
- First, prepare the dough. Put the flour and butter in a large mixing bowl. Rub them together between your fingers until you obtain fine crumbs and no lumps remain. Add the sour cream and egg yolks. Stir with your hands until you obtain a loose dough. Knead until the dough comes together nicely and is tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Divide the dough into 3 parts and shape each into a ball. Wrap the balls in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Prepare the filling. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the ground nuts with sugar and cardamom. Stir to mix. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 380˚F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Work with one ball at a time and keep the rest covered with a kitchen towel. Using a rolling pin, roll the ball into a thin 11-inch circle. Using a sharp knife, cut the circle into quarters, then cut each quarter into 2 wedges, making 8 wedges total.
- Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of the filling on each wedge, leaving a ¼-inch border along the edges. Roll the wedges up toward the pointed end. Continue with the remaining dough balls in the same manner. Place the roll-ups on the baking sheets, pointy side down, spacing them about 1 inch apart.
- Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes, or until the roll-ups are light golden around the edges. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool completely, then dust with powdered sugar.