Halwa Cookies
60 Min

Halwa Cookies

When I think of the iconic foods of America, a cookie is the first thing that comes to my mind. Upon my arrival in this part of the world over 30 years ago, while visiting a mall, I was fascinated to see an entire store dedicated to serving warm freshly baked cookies. Wow, what an idea! The closest thing I had seen to a cookie in India was a sweet crisp shortbread that we called a biscuit, usually eaten with chai. Here, I loved the plays of textures, from firm to gooey, crisp to chewy, nutty to smooth, in a neatly packed disc. Even during my early adventures in the kitchen, almost every flavor I could conjure up ended up as a cookie. When opening the Bake Lab, my favorite combination of chocolate and chile transformed into a cookie as did fresh coconut with minced mint leaves. I applied this same idea to leftover halwa, a sweet often used as a divine offering in Indian temples. To my fellow Indians who attempt it, it will be reminiscent of trips to temples and gurudwaras.
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Cook Time

60 Minutes



Step 1
To make the halwa, in a medium sized saute pan over medium heat, combine the ghee, whole wheat flour, cardamom and ground black pepper. Stir constantly for about 5 to 6 minutes or until the flour turns a darker brown. Turn the heat down if the flour is darkening too quickly. At this point, the flour is very susceptible to burning so if walking away, turn the heat off.
Step 2
Add the sugar and milk and stir briskly to avoid lumps. The whole mixture will come together into a smooth mass. You could stop at this point and just enjoy the halwa (it’s best warm). Or proceed to make the cookies in which case, set aside to cool completely.
Step 3
After the mixture has cooled, mix in the eggs and baking powder with the halwa either using a wooden spoon or in a stand mixer using the paddle. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop out the cookies and place them on a parchment paper lined baking pan about an inch apart. At this point, you could refrigerate or freeze the cookie dough.
Step 4
Preheat the oven to 325F. Press the sliced almonds on top of the cookies, flatten them slightly and place in the oven. Cook for 15 to 18 minutes, then sprinkle the pistachios on top.
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon ghee
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 tablespoon crushed pistachios

Notes & Variations

  • The best whole wheat flour to use is roti flour (found at most Indian grocery stores) or whole wheat pastry flour, which is much more finely ground than the usual whole wheat flour.
  • These cookies are slightly cakey, for a crisper version, bake them for another 10 minutes at 300F.
  • Halwa can mean completely different things in different cultures – even within India, there are a variety of halwas. This is perhaps the most common and basic preparation of one.
60 Min

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Halwa, halvah or halva, is a confection that has many iterations depending on the provenance, yet the common theme remains that it is a sweet hash made of roasted or fried flour, usually semolina, sweetened with honey, dates or sugar and flavored with aromatic spices such as saffron, cardamom and rose water.