Mersu (BAR’s variation)

Makes about 20

½ pound (8 oz) dried, pitted dates, finely chopped

½ cup water

¼ cup (1 oz) pistachios, shelled and finely chopped

3 cups flour (I used wheat, but you could use barley for authenticity)

1 cup chilled butter, cut into small cubes

5 tablespoons milk

Instructions: Put the dates in a small pan and add water. Cook over medium heat until a thick paste forms, stirring often (about 5–8 minutes). Mix in pistachios. Set this aside to cool. Mix flour and butter together until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add milk slowly until dough holds together. Cover dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Break off a 2-inch piece of dough and roll it in your hands until it becomes pliable. Shape into a ball. Make a hole in the ball’s center with your thumb and pinch the sides between your thumb and index finger to enlarge the hole. Take some of the cooled date paste and fill the hole three-quarters of the way. Pinch the edges of the dough together and roll into a ball. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough and bake for 25 minutes in an oven preheated to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.