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Molded Shortbread Ka’ik Cookies

Here is another version of ka’ik, this one a molded shortbread cookie. Buttery, crisp, and beautiful, a tradition for Easter. Find ingredients such as mahleb and orange blossom water at, along with the molds here.

White iced shortbread cookie on a cookie rack

Why can’t I just leave a good thing alone?! Maybe it’s all of the home-time we’re having these weeks that has driven me to develop a new recipe for ka’ik, beautiful molded Lebanese Easter cookies.

Maybe it’s impatience? The classic version is made with a beautiful yeasted dough, one that does take a few hours to prepare so the dough can rise. I’m a big fan of yeasted dough, and yet . . . sometimes I want an oompa loompa, I mean cookie, and I want it NOW.

Spices in a blue and green bowl
Brown sugar packed in a measuring cup
Cookie dough in a mixing bowl

Drawing on the tradition of German and other beautiful molded shortbread cookies, I went for a shortbread version of ka’ik. The buttery, brown sugar flavor of the cookie is infused by an amazing supporting cast of spices and flavorings. We bake these to a rather deep golden brown to achieve a short, crunchy/crumbly texture and to get that toasty flavor.

The result is so harmonious. And if the starring flavor of anise is not your thing (as is the case with my brother Chris, vehemently), you can take these in another direction of classic shortbread flavor, with vanilla only or vanilla and orange blossom water. Just be sure to replace the hefty amount of dry spice ingredient with about that same amount of flour.

Dough ball with floured wooden cookie mold
Cookie dough on top of a wooden mold
Shaped molded cookie dough in hand next to a wooden cookie mold

What I love, LOVE, about this dough is how beautifully it holds the shape of the ka’ik cookie mold. So beautiful. The (delicious) glaze on top should coat rather thickly while still revealing the pattern underneath.

The molds I offer at are custom made just for us, in solid walnut. They are stunners, and as the new batch arrived for Easter baking, I’m realizing that it’s really the molds that inspired my new recipe. I wondered, and have been asked by some of you, how else can we use these beauties?


Molded shortbread cookies on a rack with a bowl of icing
Glazed molded shortbread cookies on a cookie rack

More Ka’ik Recipes to Try

Classic, soft, fragrant Yeasted Ka’ik

Date-filled Ka’ik

A story: the Gift of Ka’ik in Lebanon

White iced shortbread cookie on a cookie rack

Molded Shortbread Kaik Cookies

Maureen Abood
This is a crunchy, buttery version of molded Lebanese Easter cookies, "ka'ik" or "ka'ak." The cookie is flavored with the classic spices of mahleb, anise, and orange blossom water. Use the traditional flat mold to shape your cookies (find them here), or use the tines of a fork to make your own design. Be sure let the glaze dry completely before storing the cookies.
Servings 10 5-inch cookies


For the cookie dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons orange blossom water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon anise extract
  • 4 cups plus 2-3 tablespoons, unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more to flour the molds
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons mahleb
  • 3 tablespoons ground anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the glaze:

  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons orange blossom water
  • 4-5 tablespoons water


  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two sheet pans with parchment.
  • In the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or by hand with a wooden spoon, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, about two minutes on medium speed.
  • With the mixer off, scrape down the bowl. Add the eggs, orange blossom water, vanilla and anise extract and beat until it's well incorporated.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, mahlab, anise, and nutmeg. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the flour mixture. Once moistened, add the remaining flour mixture and beat until combined. The dough should hold together when squeezed, without leaving dough on your fingers. Add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed, to create a cohesive, but not dry, dough.
  • To shape the cookies with a mold. flour the mold well with flour, then knock of excess flour. Do this each time before pushing dough into the mold to ensure an easier release of the shaped dough.
  • Pull a large, 4 oz. piece of dough and shape it into a smooth ball. Flatten the dough to about a 3-inch disk on your work surface. Smooth any cracks in the dough. Gently lift the disk and press it into the floured mold. Evenly push the dough across the mold and shape the edges to prevent any cracking.
  • To remove the dough from the mold, gently loosen the dough around the perimeter of the mold, slowly working your way in as you loosen. Let gravity assist as you hold the mold face down and gently pull the shaped dough from the mold.
  • Repeat with all of the dough, placing the cookies on the prepared sheet pans about two inches apart, six cookies on one pan and four on the other.
  • Bake the cookies one sheet pan at a time, for 17 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown throughout (not just at the perimeter). Remove from the oven and cool completely before glazing.
  • Make the glaze just before using it. In a medium bowl, combine the confectioner's sugar, corn syrup, orange blossom water, and 3 tablespoons water. Stir until the glaze falls in a very thick ribbon off of the spoon. Add drops of water if needed to get the correct consistency. Cover with plastic wrap until you're ready to use the glaze, stirring again to smooth it out.
  • Place the cookies on a rack with parchment underneath to catch drips. Spoon the glaze in the center of a cookie, and spread the glaze evently to the edges using the back of the spoon or a pastry brush. You'll get a feel for how thick you want the coating of glaze to be, making sure the cookie pattern shows through.
  • Allow the glazed cookies to harden over night. Store the cookies in an airtight container, in layers separated by waxed paper, for up to one week or longer. These are crunchy biscuit cookies so they last a good long time.


  1. Marcia O'Dea on March 21, 2020 at 4:26 PM

    Thank you for helping us through this crisis! You are orange blossom and rose water. Bringing sweetness to us! Can’t wait to try your kaaiks!blessings !

    • Maureen Abood on March 26, 2020 at 7:23 AM

      Marcia, thank you so so much! Love to hear how you like these shortbread ka’ik cookies!

  2. Varun Sharma on April 4, 2020 at 5:49 AM

    I like cookies. These look amazing..!!!

  3. Laurie on November 29, 2020 at 2:07 PM

    I’m wondering if my deeper cut Springerle molds will work with your recipe, (which is certainly a less time consuming recipe than the two day Springerle baking process).
    Also, I have never used or tasted anything with Malab, what sort of flavor profile and texture does it add to the cookie?

    • Maureen Abood on December 2, 2020 at 1:11 PM

      Laurie, the springerle molds are worth a try! Mahleb imparts a wonderful, gentle almond-like flavor–but be sure your mahleb is fresh. And store it in the freezer. This spice goes off within months at most.

  4. Sydney Skinner on August 20, 2021 at 4:24 PM

    How would the cookie change if I used ghee instead of regular butter?

    • Maureen Abood on September 1, 2021 at 9:47 AM

      Well it depends, ghee is not all the same. Butter ghee is indeed clarified butter and should work fine!

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Maureen Abood in the kitchen

I'm so glad you're here! You'll find among these pages the fresh and classic Lebanese recipes we can't get enough of! My mission is to share my tried + true recipes -- and to help our Lebanese food-loving community keep these culinary traditions alive and on the table. What recipes are you looking for? Let me know!

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