Recipe: Kleicha Cookies

Traditional stuffed cookies, called kleicha, are a staple treat in Iraqi homes. There are a number of varieties, and each baker makes the recipe a little differently. Some use a cinnamon-walnut filling. Some use coconut. Some make a blend of the two. One of our favorites is filled with the cinnamon-walnut mixture and formed in a traditional wooden mold. The recipe below is a modified version of the traditional oil-based dough recipe. You can purchase a mold like the one shown here, hand-made by an Iraqi woodworker, at our shop.

Hand-made wooden molds, carved in Iraq by artists who use traditional methods, make these cookies even more special. Photo by Erin Wilson/Preemptive Love



• 3 cups flour
• 1 tbsp yeast
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp ground cardamom
• 1 cup butter (at room temperature)
• ½ cup water
• 1 tsp sugar
• 1 cup walnuts
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 tsp ground cardamom
• 1 tbsp sugar
• 2 tsp honey (optional)
• 1 tsp oil (optional)
• 1 egg


  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Begin by making cookie dough: combine flour and yeast. Mix in sugar, salt, and cardamom. Mix butter into dry ingredients. Slowly mix in water. Let dough rest while preparing the filling.
  3. Prepare walnut filling: grind walnuts, cinnamon, cardamom, and sugar in a food processor. If a stickier mixture would be easier to stuff into dough, add optional honey and oil.
  4. For cookies: roll golf ball-sized pieces of dough into balls. Flatten dough with a rolling pin until ¼” thick. Holding the round of dough in the palm of one hand, add a spoonful of walnut filling. Carefully gather the edges and pinch to seal, forming a ball. Place into wooden cookie mold, seam side up, and flatten. Pop formed cookies out of the mold with a smack against your palm, and place on a lined cookie sheet. Whisk egg to make an egg wash. Brush tops of kleicha with egg wash.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, until tops are golden and cookies are baked through. Enjoy with a cup of tea or around a cozy fire!

When you bake using our artist-made mold, upload a photo to Instagram and tag #preemptivelove. We’d love to see what you’re baking, and who you invite to your table.

Preemptive Love helped Nalin, pictured above baking kleicha, start a bakery business from her home in a camp for Syrian refugees in northern Iraq. She used our cookie mold to bake a Syrian version of the traditional Iraqi recipe. Photos by Charlene Winfred/Preemptive Love