Sekerpare is a much loved Turkish dessert, made in Turkish homes and a huge favorite of my dear brother-in-law, Mehmet. You can also find Sekerpare in bakeries and patisseries, pastane as we call it, all around in Turkey. Semolina based national favorite Sekerpare would always appear at my mother’s tea time spread, during celebrations with family and friends, as well as at religious festivities as when marking the end of Ramadan.
Sekerpare means “a piece of sweet” in Old Turkish and I love the crumbly, lighter texture semolina brings to Sekerpare, it simply melts in your mouth. My version is a little lighter and less sweet, fragrant with lemon juice and lemon zest.
A few tips for a successful Sekerpare: 1) Make sure to leave enough space between each sekerpare on the baking tray, as they expand during baking. 2) First make the syrup, as it needs to cool down. Pour the cooled syrup over hot Sekerpare and let the Sekerpare cookies absorb the syrup as they cool. Once all the syrup absorbed, Sekerpare will be soft and tender enough to eat with a fork.
We enjoy Sekerpare with Turkish coffee, Turkish tea, cay for a tea time treat or as a dessert after meal. I hope you can have a go at this delicious and easy to make treat.
Adapted from Adventures in Turkish Cooking, Anatolia Cookery Book
- Zest of 1 small lemon
- 115 gr/ 4 oz. / ½ cup sugar
- 125 gr/ 4 ½ oz. unsalted butter
- 300 gr/ 10 ½ oz. /2 cups plain (all – purpose flour)
- 95 gr / 3 ¼ oz. / ½ cup fine grained semolina
- 2 eggs
- 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. baking powder
- 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. light olive oil (and a little extra to grease the baking tray)
- 20 blanched almonds or hazelnuts
- Small bowl of cold water (to help shape the sekerpare cookies)
- For the syrup:
- Juice of 1 small lemon
- 345 gr/ 12 oz. /1 ½ cup sugar
- 480 ml/ 16 fl. oz. / 2 cups water
- Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ Gas mark 4
- First make the syrup. Grate the lemon zest into a bowl and set aside for the dough.
- Squeeze the lemon juice into a cup.
- Combine the 345 gr/ 12 oz. /1 ½ cup sugar and 480 ml/ 16 fl. oz. / 2 cups water in a heavy sauce pan over the medium heat and bring to the boil. Stir and let the sugar dissolve.
- Add the lemon juice, reduce the heat and simmer for a further 15 minutes for the syrup to thicken slightly. Turn the heat off and set the syrup aside to cool.
- Now, let’s make the dough. Gently melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat (or cut in small chunks and melt in microwave for 30 – 40 seconds, mixing half way).
- Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and stir in the semolina. Make a well in the middle and pour in the butter. Stir in the 2 eggs, 115 gr/ 4 oz./ ½ cup sugar, lemon zest, 2 tbsp. light olive oil and the baking powder.
- Knead for 5 minutes, until you achieve a soft, moist dough. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside to rest for 15 minutes.
- Have a small bowl of cold water nearby. Knead the dough again for 5 minutes. Then wet your hands lightly with cold water and divide the dough and shape into twenty ping pong sized balls.
- Grease a baking tray with a little of light olive oil (about 1 tbsp.) and place the sekerpare dough balls side by side, making sure you leave extra space between them to expand. Gently press down on top of each ball to flatten slightly.
- Push an almond or hazelnut in the center of each sekerpare ball.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until they start to turn light brown.
- Remove the sekerpare from the oven and pour cooled syrup over hot sekerpare cookies. Leave to cool and let the sekerpare cookies absorb the syrup for 15 minutes; they will get soft and tender.
- Serve cooled sekerpare with Turkish tea or coffee. You can keep sekerpare cookies covered in a container at room temperature for 2-3 days.