Tabaa in the Algerian language means baking mold – in this case a cookie/pastry cutter. It also can refer to a postage stamp.
Tabaa are also known as Torno in Oran. Recipes for this double named cookie vary from place to place, family to family.
Halwat Tabaa are best described as a type of shortbread or sablé, yet they are lighter and somewhat cake-like in texture.
This lighter texture comes from cornflour and whipped/beaten eggs in the recipe. Using oil instead of butter probably helps the texture too.
I’ve kept the flavours *light* in the Tabaa too, by using the zest of only one small green lemon. This will come as a shock to those of you who know my love of lemons, sadly my Mother-in-law’s lemon tree is no longer bearing fruit as citrus season is almost over here.
The good news is, the lemon flavour does come through faintly once the cookies have cooled down.
Traditionally Tabaa are flavoured with orange and anise seeds then given an egg glaze and topped with sesame seeds before baking.
These days you see Tabaa decorated with sprinkles or coarse sugar. I’ve kept things nice and simple by giving some of my Tabaa an egg wash/glaze.
Make your Halwat Tabaa as fancy or everyday as you like!
Remember cooking time of the cookies will depend on what shape/size cookie cutter you use. By all means be creative with different shapes and sizes, just keep an eye on the oven!
Algerian shortbread biscuits/cookies made with eggs.
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup neutral oil
- Vanilla (I used 1 tsp)
- Lemon zest (I used zest of 1 small lemon)
- 20g baking powder
- 1 cup cornstarch (known as cornflour in uk)
- 600g+ Plain flour (enough to create a soft but not sticky dough)
For Glazing / Decorating*optional:
- 1 egg yolk
- Sprinkles / Sesame seeds / coloured coarse sugar
- Pre-heat oven to 180c / 350f / Gas Mark 4. Set up ingredients.
- In a large mixing bowl beat eggs, add sugar and beat again until paler and bubbly.
- Beat in oil followed by the lemon zest and vanilla.
- Stir in baking powder followed by cornstarch/cornflour then stir in enough plain flour to create a soft but not sticky dough – I used 600g.
- Flour your worktop with plenty of flour if your dough is on the sticky side and taking a portion of the dough, roll out until desired thickness – about 1.5cm and using a cookie cutter of your choosing (mine was round and about 6cm in diameter – I used both the straight side for some tabaa and curved side for others) cut-out the Tabaa and place on a non-stick baking sheet immediately.
- If desired glaze tops with egg yolk and decorate with sugar, sprinkles, sesame seeds etc or glide a fork through the glaze for a decorative pattern. (I kept mine simple topping with the egg glaze only and not on all of them)
- Bake in the middle of the oven for about 10 minutes – depending on how soft/hard you want the Tabaa. Remove and allow to cool on the sheet 5-10mins before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. Enjoy with tea, coffee or milk.
UK Cup measurement used, 1 cup = 250ml. USA cup may be substituted – may yield fewer cookies.
The dough is very soft so you need to stamp out and place each cookie on the baking sheet as you go. If you stamp out all the cookies first, when you come to moving them to the sheet they may loose shape.
Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place and the Tabaa will last for upto 2 weeks. That’s if greedy hands don’t get to them first!