Another special treasure my parents kindly brought back from Antakya was these very pretty wooden molds which the locals use to shape the delicious Kombe cookies. I adore the molds’ intricate, delicate designs and have always been always fascinated with the special place these cookies have throughout the Middle Eastern cuisines.
Kombe cookies are made in every special occasion in Antakya and surroundings; weddings, religious festivals, Ramadan or at any special gathering. They have a delicious, crunchy bite to it and I like that they are not overly sweet. There are variations of kombe cookies even in Southeast Turkey; some has only nuts in it, some would have dates, as in the case of their Middle Eastern cousin, Mamul or Ma’amoul. Regardless of their variation, both kombe and ma’amoul have a special place throughout the Middle Eastern cuisines and have been a part of the celebrations in different religions; during Ramadan, Easter and Hanukkah. Indeed a special cross cultural cookie and I think that makes it even more special.
My 7 year old daughter is a keen baker and she was fascinated with the beautiful kombe molds that anneanne, grandma brought. So we all gathered in the kitchen a few weeks ago; anneanne, myself and my daughter, shaping the kombe cookies. She was fascinated with the shapes forming in the wooden mold and hearing anneanne’s stories. Then mother wanted to consult my dear cousin, Rana in Reyhanli – Hatay, the “pro” Kombe maker in the family, to fine tune the recipe. Rana very kindly went over the kombe recipe as the way it is made in our family; our very special thanks goes to Rana for her invaluable contribution. It was a very memorable experience, which I hope will stay with my daughter a lifetime – a very special recipe and tradition to pass on the next generation.
We used crushed walnuts, sugar and cinnamon in the kombe filling; cinnamon pairs beautifully with walnuts. In Antakya, a special blend of kombe baharat is also sold, consisting of mainly ground cinnamon – there’s also ground all spice, mastic, mahlepi, ground ginger and ground clove (some locals may add a few other spices) in the fragrant kombe baharat (If you’d like to make your own kombe baharat, the ratio of cinnamon to the others in the blend is roughy 3:1). I love that these delicate, crunchy cookies are not overly sweet and they are wonderful with tea, cay or Turkish coffee.
I hope you enjoy these delicious Kombe cookies. The wooden molds are a treat; make sure you get some if you plan to go to Antakya, Uzun Carsi (Long Market). If not, you can still decorate your cookies with a fork.
My cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, is a special tribute to my roots, going back to Antakya. I hoped to showcase delicious, authentic regional recipes, especially from southern Turkey and Antakya, including these lovely kombe cookies. More than a cookery book, it has personal stories from my homeland, along with beautiful photography; Signed copies are available to order at this link, if you’d like to copy.
- 500gr/4 cups plain, all-purpose flour
- 200 gr/ 7 oz. unsalted butter, melted
- 110gr/ 3.5 oz./ ½ cup granulated white sugar
- 2 egg white, beaten
- 10 ml/ 2 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 15 ml/1 tbsp. ground cinnamon or Kombe baharat
- 4 fl. oz./ ½ cup warm whole milk
- For the filling:
- 85gr/3 oz./2/3 cup crushed walnuts
- 30ml/2 tbsp. sugar
- 10ml/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F
- Combine the flour and the melted butter in a large bowl and mix well.
- Dissolve the sugar in the warm milk and add to the flour mixture.
- Pour in the vanilla extract, egg whites and the cinnamon or kombe baharat, combine well.
- Knead the mixture well for 2-3 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth.
- Take a small walnut size of the dough and press the dough gently into the mold to take its shape.
- Stuff this dough with about 1 ½ tsp. of the filling mixture.
- Take another small piece of dough, about half of the size of the first one. Flatten and press this dough gently over the filling,to form a cap and close the dough. Press gently and seal the ends of the dough.
- Remove the kombe cookie from the wooden mold by tapping the end of the mold with your fingers firmly and make sure to catch the falling cookie, shaped with the mold’s intricate design. Place the cookie on a baking tray and repeat this with the rest of the dough.
- Bake the cookies for about 20 or 25 minutes, until they get a nice light brown color. They are traditionally lighter in color.
- Once cool, serve the Kombe cookies with tea, cay or coffee. Kombe cookies can be stored in an airtight container for at least 3-4 days.
Ozlem’s Turkish Table featured amongst the best Turk Food Blogs by Daily Sabah
I have been delighted and honored to see my blog Ozlem’s Turkish Table being featured amongst the best Turkish food blogs by the Daily Sabah national newspaper in Turkey. Please check out the link for the article and also meet other wonderful Turkish food bloggers. With this opportunity, my heartfelt thanks goes to you all for all your support; it means so much to me.
. . they are indeed one of the most delightful ‘snacks’ for me as they are not too sweet. A little-known gem outside of the region.
Many thanks Alan, most kind – thrilled to see you know about kombe cookies! A real foodie : )
Please can you tell me of anywhere on line I can buy Kombe moulds?
Merhaba Sue, I am afraid it is hard to find kombe cookie moulds online – something I hope to offer at my website in the future – You could try Turkish or Middle Eastern stores, Lebanese stores also may carry, as they make the mamul cookies with the same mould. Best of luck – if not shaping with fork also helps too. Many thanks for stopping by, Ozlem
Beautiful post, Ozlem! Just so happy to see three generations making these delightful cookies together. And Congratulations on being featured in the newspaper, it’s a great achievement…very well deserved. XxPeri.
Thank you my dear friend, most kind, you support always meant so much to me. Yes, it really was a special baking with three generations : ) Ozlem xx
Özlem, Thanks for giving me the scoop on what those molds are that I’ve seen here and there on my travels. I confess that I don’t make sweets much anymore but these sound so delicious that I’m tempted enough to try. Actually, they also seem a bit Christmassy with the cinnamon and walnuts.
Really a sweet photo of your mother and daughter making cookies together. What a precious memory! Yine teşekkür ederim. Öptüm. Jolee
Merhaba Jolee, many thanks for your kind note 🙂 Do get hold of these wooden kombe molds if you can, they are just beautiful – I love its cross-cultural significance and have a lot of memories attached to them, baking with my mother and daughter. You are right, it is quite a festive cookie with walnuts and cinnamon, hope you enjoy making yours. And I hope you get to meet anneanne and my daughter this summer!:) Cok sevgiler, Ozlem
What is the Kimberley Bharat spice?
Merhaba! I also love the photo of your daughter w/ anneanne! 🙂 I learned to bake from both of my grandmothers and wish I would’ve had time to learn more from them. Treasure those special moments!
It looks like I’ll be coming to London next month with my hubby as he has some work meetings there. I’ll msg you with more details, but hopefully we’ll be able to meet up!
Merhaba Joy, indeed it was a special time spent together – the other day I was reminding the baking with anneanne, so lovely to see my daughter remembered every little detail, so wonderful, you’re right, moments to treasure!
Oh, it would be great if we can meet up, will keep the fingers crossed!:) many thanks for stopping by, Ozlem x
Great post and the cookies look delicious! But I must admit I am more fascinated by the spoons! I MUST have these!!! Best!!!
Merhaba Terry, thanks so much for stopping by! I do love the spoons too, just too beautiful. I know in Eminonu, Tahtakale area in Istanbul you can get them – though make it Antakya, worth it 🙂
Hi Ozlem! it’s been almost two years and I finally stumbled across a kombe spoon in Ankara! You better believe I bought it — the only one they had! I’m finally ready to make them. 🙂
Merhaba Terry, delighted to hear you found the kombe spoons : ) I do hope you enjoy making kombe cookies, elinize saglik : ) xx
Awww, what a lovely story and so special that you all got to bake these together, along with the phonecall to Rana, too. I’m sure your daughter will remember it forever and as for us, can’t wait to plan some sort of trip to that area and when we see these molds, we’ll know exactly what to do with them. Lovely post. 🙂
Thanks a lot Julia, very kind : ) You got to make it to Antakya, so much to see and taste. It really was special baking together, all about making memories. Cok selamlar, Ozlem
I love the wooden biscuit presses. This is yet another recipe I haven’t heard of.
Alan says he knows them, maybe a trip to Dalyan area? even better, make it to Antakya, so much to experience, I do love the wooden kombe molds too. Cok selamlar, Ozlem
If a “A picture is worth a thousand words” . . . , this one is double that! You can see the joy in both your daughter’s and mother’s eyes! Love the photo, love the recipe and the post! Ellerinize saglik! Sevgilerimle, april
Oh, how kind of you April, cok tesekkurler 🙂 It really was a special moment, many thanks for your very kind words – hope you enjoy kombe, great that you got the mold!:) Cok Sevgilerimle, Ozlem
Many thanks Ozlen I already made the Antakya’s cookie with walnuts and they are delicious but I would like the recipe for the crumbly texture, with flavor of tahini, cinnamon and more with sesame on top and have the same name Antakya’s kombe cookies. Beautiful post.
Merhaba Flor, many thanks for your kind note; there are so many variations of kombe, another delicious variation also Ma’amoul, throught Middle East. This is the way we would make kombe in our family in Antakya and I wanted to share. Tahini and sesame seeds are indeed delicious additions, I’d love to try that version sometime too. Best wishes, Ozlem
Bonjour Özlem – what a lovely story and pics! Had I only known what these forms were meant for when I recently saw them in Istanbul I would have bought them. Next time!
Bonjour Barbara; there’s always next time, great excuse to come back, hope soon. Glad you enjoyed the post : ) Sevgilerimle, Ozlem
Oh I have not seen these cookies in Turkey; I bet our ma’amoul were originally kombe, since so much of our Levantine pastries are common with the Ottoman/Turkish ones! Would love to try them some day. In Syria, actually, they make some variety of ma’amoul with regular flour like these and not semolina/
Lovely to find your note Joumana, I feel kombe / ma’amoul is a bit like hummus; not sure where the exact origin is from but I do love to see variations of it through Middle Eastern cuisines. Antakya being by the border of Syria, I am sure share culinary influences – and I would love to try ma’amoul properly!
It’s wonderful to be able to pass on traditional recipes and ways of cooking in this way. These cookies both look and sound delightful.
Thank you Phil, very kind.
If you do not have one of the mold can you use a something like an ice cream scoop? Also if you have a mold how do you keep the dough from sticking? Thanks, Deborah
Merhaba Deborah, I suppose you can – though you won’t be able to get the patterns. In that case, you may draw a little pattern gently with a knife. The dough has quite a bit of butter in it so it doesn’t really stick to the mold. If that’s the case, you may grease with a little oil if you like – hope it helps.
Hi, thank you for posting this recipe. I followed your recipe to the word, they did not turn out so well. Too much cinnamon. I used exactly 1 tablespoon for the dough, and 2 teaspoons for the filling. (With measuring spoons) With 2 tbsp vanilla extract and all the cinnamon, my cookies turned out a lot browner than yours, as I expected. Do you not use baking powder? I have tasted these delicious cookies in Turkey and fell in love with them. I used the best quality ingredients I could find here in the US, and even bought the mould for it. My search for a recipe continues!
Many thanks for your kind note; cinnamon (as well as kombe baharat) used liberally at this recipe but by all means use less to suit your taste buds; we don’t traditionally add baking powder here. I will dig out to see if there are variations that may be useful for you, they really do taste best at home but I would love you to enjoy too, will share if I can come accross, many thanks, Ozlem