Sharon and I decided we would make a batch of these very typical Israeli rolled-up cookies.
When my cousin Dorit asked if her 15-year-old son Itay could fly from Israel to stay with us for the Summer of 2008, my answer was “Sure!” The more the merrier.
Over the years, during our visits to Israel, my son Ariel and Itay had become the best of friends.
When Itay arrived in July, it was a full house—Ariel (14), my niece Devorah (13), my nephew Yosef (9) and my daughters Gabriella (4), Alexandra (3) and newborn Shevy. My husband thought I was crazy (lucky for him that he went to work every day, lucky for me I had an amazing nanny).
Every day that summer, I would drive to Urth Caffe to fuel my addiction — a deliciously decadent Spanish latte granita with boba and whipped cream. With that strong infusion of caffeine and sugar, I was ready to be supermom.
I loved the laughter and energy of having so many children under my roof, enjoying their summer vacation. There was day camp for the little ones and days spent at the mall, at the movies and at the beach. There were fun days spent at Disneyland, Universal Studios and Knotts Berry Farm (those were the olden times when admission was still affordable).
When Itay returned to Israel, he continued putting on Tefillin every morning, just as he had in our home with Ariel. He told his parents that he wanted “kiddush” on Friday nights, so Friday night dinners with kiddush and challah became a tradition for his extended family. He and his brother Ben gradually became Shomer Shabbat and now have religious homes.
Ariel and Itay graduated high school and both drafted into the Israeli Army. Ariel was a lone soldier in a field intelligence combat unit. My cousin Dorit and her husband Eyal were a second family to him, attending every one of his beret ceremonies.
Itay became a commander in the Golani unit. In 2014, he saw fierce combat in the tunnels of Gaza. He was a hero, who pulled several wounded comrades to safety.
Whenever I would speak to Dorit during that period, she would be baking cookies to take to our boys. Itay’s favorite was a rolled cookie made with a shortbread dough and a Nutella filling.
Last week, I spoke to Dorit and she was baking those same cookies for Itay, who is stationed in the North on the border with Lebanon. She told me the last time they drove North to deliver food for the soldiers and a special delivery of Itay’s favorite cookies, they weren’t even able to see Itay.
She told me that she is dividing every night between helping her son Ben’s wife with their three boys and Itay’s wife with their two boys. She said it is terrifying to drive at night because that is when the air raid sirens sound and she is deathly afraid of the Hamas rockets.
This past Shabbat, I had an almost empty nest. Ariel is married, Gabriella is studying at Yeshiva University in New York, Alexandra is attending seminary in Jerusalem and Shevy was on a Shalhevet 10th Grade Shabbaton. Luckily, my niece Devorah and her fiancé Daniel surprised us with a visit from New York. The kids grow up too fast!
There is something very soothing and meditative about mixing the egg and sugar, adding oil and vanilla, then kneading in the flour and baking powder and feeling the dough come together.
Sharon and I decided we would make a batch of these very typical Israeli rolled-up cookies. There is something very soothing and meditative about mixing the egg and sugar, adding oil and vanilla, then kneading in the flour and baking powder and feeling the dough come together. It’s fun to roll out the dough (not too thin), to choose a filling (we chose Lotus Butter and semi-sweet chocolate chips). Then we carefully rolled the dough into a log and chilled it in the refrigerator before baking in a very hot oven. Once the cookie log was golden brown, we sliced it and sprinkled with a generous shower of powdery white sugar.
We made an extra loud bracha before eating these deliciously crunchy cookies.
Israeli Lotus and Chocolate Roll Cookie
1/3 cup avocado oil
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups flour
1 pinch salt
1 tsp baking powder
4 Tbsp Lotus butter
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
In a bowl, mix together oil and sugar.
Add the egg and vanilla extract; mix well.
Add the flour, salt and baking powder.
Knead gently until the dough comes together.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Place a long sheet of parchment paper on a workspace and lightly sprinkle with flour.
Gently roll out the dough into a rectangle.
Spread Lotus butter in the middle, leaving a 1-inch border. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.
Using the parchment paper roll the dough from the bottom over to form a long, narrow roll.
Place the roll on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.
Allow to cool for one hour, then slice into half inch pieces.
Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Store in an airtight container.
Rachel Sheff and Sharon Gomperts have been friends since high school. They love cooking and sharing recipes. They have collaborated on Sephardic Educational Center projects and community cooking classes. Follow them on Instagram @sephardicspicegirls and on Facebook at Sephardic Spice SEC Food.