Arak, which originated in the Eastern Mediterranean, lays claim to being the very first liqueur, created when aniseed berries were added to distilled palm wine as far back as 800 BC. The first historical mention of arak occurs 2,500 years ago, and it spread rapidly through the Middle East and North Africa. Ouzo may be substituted, but arak is the real thing.
- 450g (1 lb) butter, softened
- 125g (4 oz) icing sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 750g (1 ½ lb) plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 225g (8 oz) blanched almonds, finely ground
- 6 tbsp arak
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Mix together the butter, sugar and egg yolks until creamy. Mix the arak in well, then sift in the flour and baking powder. Knead into a firm dough, then add the nuts and knead again. Press the dough into small cookie shapes about 5cm (2 in) across and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle with a little more icing sugar and allow to cool.