These petit four cookies have been a family tradition around the holidays for as long as I can remember. Betefor, as it has been called in our home is a sweet butter cookie sandwich. My mother would glue together chocolate and vanilla cookies with some apricot preserves arranged on a large tray during the last few nights of Ramadan. It is a heavenly delight most often enjoyed on Eid morning along with maamoul and kahk, marking the end of Ramadan and the welcoming back of breakfast and cookies with tea!
The recipe for these delicate little cookies is very simple: butter, sugar, flour vanilla, and eggs. As I made these cookies countless times over the years, I found myself refining the vanilla flavor by adding fresh vanilla bean into the sugar mixture. I then began adding a drop of pure rose extract. The scent is divine.
A Family Tradition
My mother would pull out her worn red recipe book in which she hastily jotted down the recipes from her mother and her grandmother in preparation for her big move out of her home in Alexandria, Egypt. I can still see the aged paper with fading blue ink sitting on the kitchen counter as we measure out the ingredients.
The fun of piping all types of cookie shapes and later gluing them together with apricot preserves is such a memorable experience. This was the first recipe I attempted when I became a new mom with my little 6 month old bundled in her seat, unaware of the family tradition I was introducing into our family. Several phone calls (perhaps hundreds by now:) to my mother about each step, ensured I would have this fragrant vanilla and chocolate cookie sandwich to share with my own children for years to come.
You can use any fruit preserve in the center, but I absolutely LOVE the flavor and scent of the apricot on this sweet butter cookie. The apricot delicately balances with the rose and vanilla infused into each bite. Setting up the cookie assembly line with bowls of apricot preserves, melted chocolate, sprinkles, and chopped pistachios is the best part of this tradition. In preparation for Eid, the festive holiday marking the end of Ramadan and daily fasting, we make huge trays of these cookies to enjoy on Eid morning and to share with friends and neighbors. All the children of the family would gather around the table with grandma to sandwich the cookies together, dip into chocolate or jam, and then finally into a bowl of sprinkles or chopped pistachios. Chocolate on noses, jam covered fingers, and sprinkles rolling all over the table are a tell tale sign that betefor preparation is well underway! I savor that first cookie bite on Eid morning, when we resume our habitual breakfast and tea with biscuits. The cookies taste even better the next morning after assembly, as the preserves infuse their scent throughout the cookie and release some moisture making each bite melt in your mouth!
This cookie recipe is traditionally made with clarified butter, which we call samnah. Samnah is made by melting unsalted butter in a pot and allowing the water to evaporate. It is really simple. This yields a heavier butter with no water. It also smells divine.
I use unbleached all purpose flour, or pastry flour if I have it on hand. Do yourself a favor and measure it precisely by weight. After several trials we have concluded that 725 grams of flour is your best bet. This is roughly 6 cups.
You can certainly use vanilla extract or vanilla powder, but it does not come close to the heavenly scent of pure vanilla beans. I order mine from SloFood Group. Rose extract is optional, and you only need a small drop. It goes a long way and scents the cookies beautifully.
Then, eggs, powdered sugar, and optional cocoa powder is all you need. I like to use dutch processed cocoa because it is darker in color and shows better inthe cookie dough.
Grab some apricot preserves, or your favorite flavor jam, melt some chocolate chips, and some sprinkles or crushed nuts to assemble and decorate these festive cookies.
#ad You may need:
- 725 grams all purpose flour 6 cups
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 345 grams powdered sugar 3 cups
- 2 cups of room temperature unsalted butter
- 6 eggs at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla beans scraped from a vanilla pod
- 1/2 tsp rose extract
Optional chocolate cookies:
- 2 tbsp dutch processed cocoa
- 2 tbsp softened butter
- 2 tbsp powdered sugar
For assembly and decorating:
- apricot preserves
- crushed pistachios
- 6 oz melted chocolate
- Whip the butter and sugar together until creamy.
- Add in the eggs, one at a time along with the vanilla. If using the rose extract, add 2 drops to the mixture.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.
- Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture, and fold together until you have a soft dough. If the dough appears to be sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour so that you can hold it in your hands without it sticking to your fingers.
- To make chocolate cookies, divide the dough in half and set aside the vanilla portion. Mix in the extra butter and sugar with the cocoa powder to make half the dough into chocolate flavor.
- Preheat the oven to 350 and begin shaping cookies. Use a pastry bag with a large tip such as Wilton 8B, 105, or 190 to make round flower shapes on an unlined cookie sheet. You may also use a cookie press, which is much faster and easier on the hands. There are a variety of shapes you could make!
- Bake for 8-9 minutes and allow cookies to cool completely before assembly.
- Now is the part to gather all the children, family, or friends around you and assemble the sandwiches together. We love using apricot jam in the middle, as well as a thick slathering of melted chocolate. Dip the top half of the cookie sandwich into more jam, chocolate, or honey then dip into sprinkles or crushed nuts.