Today's Spice is Mahlab!Recently, my friend Alana gave me some super cool spices as a gift, including this jar of Mahlab. Clearly, she knows the way to my heart. Mahlab (or is it mahlabs?) are the seed kernels from inside the cherry pits of one certain variety of cherry tree! Honestly, who thinks of this stuff? Apparently it has been used in Greek and Middle Eastern baked desserts and sweet breads for centuries. To use it in baking, you have to grind it up very fine - which I did with my spice grinder. I tasted it, and mostly it just seemed really, really bitter. But I had faith in centuries of bakers before me and went fearlessly ahead.
I did a lot of searching around and found this really cool and helpful article from Serious Eats. And that kind article directed me to a delicious recipe for Armemian Brioche Stuffed With Dates and Agave. This recipe was painless to veganize - agave in place of honey, EnerG egg replacer mix instead of two eggs, and it came out perfectly. For glazing the buns, I used a little soy yogurt.
Just look at how beautiful they are! I was really stoked on how pretty and delicious these came out. The stuffing inside is made of dates, walnuts and agave - and that provides pretty much all the sweetness here. They are mildly sweet, and very pleasant to eat. The dough itself is really light and yummy... and I'm not sure if I exactly taste the ground Mahlab - there's definitely no bitterness - but the dough does have a very pleasant and distinct flavor. Maybe that's from the mahlab? Either way, I really loved these sophisticated and elegant treats and I'll probably make them again - especially since they are currently my only mahlab-containing recipe! :)