A few days ago now or several, I forget when, I baked gribee or pistachio butter rings. Gribee are crisp, crumbly and rich, and of Syrian origin, or Lebanese, depending on whichever source of information you happen to be looking at. I am guessing that the word is Arabic, and despite my best efforts, which I admit have been sporadic and half-hearted due to time constraints of biblical proportions, I cannot find what the word might mean. Online translators, when I plug in the word gribee spit back the word gribee in a frustrating bit of a tautology. It is what it is, and means what it means, and says what it says. Get over it and move on.
Sharon Tyler Herbst points out that these cookies have two unusual ingredients. I count four. Clarified butter is the first. This is the same as rendered butter and one step away from being ghee. Over low heat, I cooked the butter until it bubbled, releasing any water, then strained out the milk solids leaving the clear yellow liquid fat. Ghee, more of an Indian ingredient than a middle eastern, is a little nuttier-tasting because the milk solids are browned a bit before removing. Clarified butter has a higher burning point than regular butter and keeps well without refrigeration, or so I’m told.
The second unusual ingredient in these is semolina flour which is high in gluten and has a more granular texture than all-purpose flour. This recipe called for equal parts of both. Thus endeth the enumeration of Ms. Herbst’s two unusual ingredients.
The recipe also called for pistachios, another item I have not bought before. (For those of you keeping track: yes, that’s right, I bought Irish whiskey before I ever bought pistachios.) And then there’s the rosewater.
When asked in the course of conversations whether any of these cookie recipes have not been quite our cup of tea, I’ll mention that we have found a few of the fruited variety are not worth repeating, and that a hazelnut one or two have been a little meh. But the only ones I deeply regretted making and ended up throwing away because I didn’t wish them on anyone were the rosewater jumbles. The memory of them still makes me want to scrape my tongue clean. However, in this recipe the amount of rosewater called for is much less, even with the bit added to the egg white glaze that’s brushed on before sprinkling the finely chopped pistachios. It’s so subtle, I can barely detect it, and I don’t feel like I’m eating sweets dipped in Grandma’s perfume at all!