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While these cookies are a bit time-consuming, if you have a free afternoon they really are worth every effort.

As a bonus, they will keep nicely for up to a month stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

Here’s the ground date paste (left), the date paste with spice (center), and the date paste after kneading the spice in.

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If you can’t find it, although it won’t be quite the same, for a similar flavor you can add a couple drops of pure almond extract instead.

Then once you mix up the cake spice mix, get out everything else you’ll need.

Store the extra mix in an airtight jar in the pantry or spice cupboard.

Mahlab is a lovely spice—it smells like a cross between almonds and cherries, and can be found at specialty spice shops or Middle Eastern grocery stores.

If you’re using pitted, chopped dates or date paste that isn’t completely smooth, you’ll need to grind it yourself.