Medieval sandwich biscuits: Alluring maidens’ cheeks

There are a few similar recipes for this delicious sweet in 13th-century Egyptian and Syrian cookery books. Their name (خدود الأغاني, khudud al-aghani) is somewhat of a mystery in that it would translate as ‘cheeks of the songs’. However, it is likely that the word is linked to the classical Arabic ghaniya (غانية), which means a beautiful and chaste woman desired by men. Whatever the case may be, the biscuit dough is made with flour, clarified butter, and sesame oil. This will be used to make the slices of the ‘sandwich’. The biscuits are fried and then drenched in rose-water syrup. As for the filler, this is a paste made with flour, sesame oil, musk, syrup, popppy seeds, pistachios, and almonds. When that is done, just smear it on one biscuit slice and top with another. There you have it, the ultimate afternoon sweet! But you’d better invite some guests to help you out — or rather to stop you from polishing off the lot in one go. Consider yourself warned!

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