The Shabbat Table: Nothin’ as lovin’ as cookies from Pam’s oven

Pam's Cookie Collection by Pam Reiss

Happy almost Purim! Everyone loves cookies. They’re true comfort food and always make a perfect addition to your Shabbat table. Pam’s Cookie Collection is the third cookbook written by well-known Winnipeg kosher caterer, Pam Reiss. The best-selling author of Soup: A Kosher Collection and Passover: A Kosher Collection, Pam Reiss has once again compiled a scrumptious collection of recipes, this time featuring traditional treats and trendy sweets.

Pam explains: “At Desserts Plus (our family business), we bake all sorts of things, from little cookies to cupcakes to large cakes and tortes. Even with all of the ‘fancier’ items that we bake, there is always a place for a cookie. A chocolate chip cookie, pecan shortbread rolled in icing sugar, a traditional kichel or rugelach – they’re all adored by customers, friends and family.”

Although Pam’s Cookie Collection is a small book (just 52 pages), you’ll find clearly written recipes, helpful baking tips, plus colour photos for many of their most popular cookies, as well as lesser-known cookies that Pam created in her home kitchen.

Recipes include: Colourful Meringue Kisses, Chai Tea Shortbread, Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Chocolate Thumbprints with Salted Caramel, Cranberry Pecan Biscotti, Orange Pecan Lace Cookies, Rocky Road Cookies, and Everything but the Kitchen Sink Cookies. Looking for a tried and true recipe for hamentashen? You’ll find three dough recipes along with four fillings!

Pam shared: “When I was growing up, Shabbat dinner always ended in tea and biscuits at my Baba’s house, so I tend to go for the type of cookie she would have had – like Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies, Mandelbroit/Komish, and Almond Rugelach. All would be pareve – and any of those could use margarine instead of butter.”

She continued: “I hope my cookie recipes become favourites for you, your friends and family.” For more recipes, visit Pam’s blog.


My version of a mohn (poppy seed) cookie – I love the flavour of the poppy seeds combined with fresh, bright lemon in this light, crispy cookie.

7 1/2 oz flour (1 1/2 cups)

1/4 tsp salt

4 oz powdered sugar (1 cup) (also known as icing sugar/confectioners’ sugar)

3 Tbsp poppy seeds

2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla

6 oz softened butter or margarine (3/4 cup)

Place the flour, salt, powdered sugar and poppy seeds into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times, until the poppy seeds are evenly distributed.

Add the lemon zest, juice, vanilla and butter and pulse until a dough forms. Transfer the dough onto parchment or wax paper and press it together to form an 8-inch log. It should stick together, but if it’s too dry, add 1-2 more tsp. of lemon juice or ice water. Roll the log up in paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and very firm, at least 2 hours.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Unwrap the dough and use a thin, sharp knife to cut 1/4-inch slices. Place the slices on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake two trays at a time on the middle racks of the oven for 8 minutes, turn the trays, switch their positions, and bake another 6-8 minutes, or until the edges just start to brown.

Freeze well.

Makes 36 cookies.


These are a Reiss family favourite. If you like sesame, these cookies are for you. They’re deceptively simple to make, but the double dose of flavour from the tahini and the sesame seeds is delicious. Once baked, these cookies are delicate, so handle with care. They freeze beautifully in an airtight container.

6 oz softened butter or margarine (3/4 cup)

1 cup tahini, well stirred

4 oz powdered sugar (1 cup)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

10 oz flour (2 cups)

5 oz sesame seeds (1 cup)

Preheat your oven to 350ºF.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, tahini and powdered sugar together until smooth. Add the salt and vanilla and mix through.

Scrape the sides of the bowl down, add the flour and mix on low until it forms a dough.

Use a one-ounce (2 Tbsp.) scoop to portion the dough, then roll them into balls. Roll the balls in the sesame seeds and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently press the balls down until they are approximately 1/2-inch thick. Leave an inch between cookies because they will puff up a little as they bake.

Bake two pans of cookies at a time on the middle racks of the oven for 10 minutes. Turn the pans, switch their positions, and bake another 8 minutes or until the bottom and edges have lightly browned.

Makes 24 cookies.


12 1/2 oz flour (2 1/2 cups)

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground ginger

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp baking soda

6 oz softened butter or margarine (3/4 cup)

4 oz brown sugar (1/2 cup packed)

1/4 cup fancy molasses

1 tsp vanilla

1 large egg

Place the flour, salt, spices and baking soda in a bowl and use a whisk to mix everything together. The whisk helps eliminate any lumps in the flour.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle, cream the butter with the brown sugar until well combined. Add the molasses, vanilla and egg and mix together until incorporated.

Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until just combined and a soft dough comes together. Divide into two pieces, flatten to about 1 inch thick and wrap in plastic. Chill until firm – at least one hour.

When you’re ready to make the hamentashen, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Roll one piece of dough out about 1/8-inch thick on a well-floured work surface. Use a 3-inch round cutter or glass to cut circles of dough. Collect the scraps to reroll for more cookies.

Place about 1 tsp. of the filling of your choice in the center of each circle; then bring three sides of the dough together to make a triangle over the filling. Pinch the three corners together to seal, then place on a parchment lined baking sheet and continue with the rest of the rounds.

Bake two pans at a time on the middle racks of the oven for 8 minutes. Turn the pans, switch their positions and bake another 4-8 minutes, or until the bottom and edges have lightly browned. Cool before eating.

Keep in an airtight container on the counter for a couple of days or in the freezer for a few weeks.

Freeze well.

Makes 36 hamentashen.


Amaretto liqueur is actually made from apricot pits, so it makes sense that the flavours work so well together. But if you’d rather not use it, you can substitute water and add an extra half teaspoon of almond extract.

12 oz dried apricots, cut in quarters (2 cups)

1/2 cup amaretto

2 oz granulated sugar (1/4 cup)

1/2 cup water

1 tsp almond extract

Place all of the ingredients into a small saucepan. Bring the ingredients to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook for another 4-6 minutes, until the apricots have absorbed about half of the liquid and have softened.

Use a food processor or an immersion blender to puree the mixture. Make it as smooth as possible, scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times to ensure everything is pureed.

Cool before using. Can be left in the fridge, covered, for a couple of days before using to fill hamentashen.

Makes 1 3/4 cups.

Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She is the author of twelve cookbooks and divides her time between work as a food writer, food manufacturer, consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer, and cookbook editor. Norene lives in Toronto, Canada and her motto is, “Food that’s good for you should taste good!” For more information, visit her website at or email her at [email protected]