These biscuits are delicious when fresh and keep well for several weeks so make an ideal gift.  They are both dairy-free and egg-free and are traditionally topped with chopped walnuts.  This version also has a walnut filling and you can decorate with chocolate if you like.

Total time:  2 hours plus cooling.   Cooking:  25 minutes      Makes 38.


200g Sugar
300ml Water
2 Cinnamon sticks
4 Cloves
1 Orange
300g Honey

500g Plain flour                            150g Fine semolina
100g Sugar                                    1 tsp Baking powder
½ tsp Bicarbonate of soda          2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Nutmeg, ground                 ½ tsp Cloves, ground
½ tsp Salt                                      75ml Brandy/Cognac (or sherry) 
2 Oranges                                     225ml Light or mild olive oil

Filling and decoration
150g Walnuts                               100g Milk chocolate (optional)
1 tsp Cinnamon                            100g Dark chocolate, 70% cocoa (optional)
¼ tsp Cloves, ground                   10ml(2 tsp) Light olive oil (optional)

Tip:   Make the syrup in advance so that it cools before you make the biscuits.


1. For the syrup, add the sugar, water, spices, and strips of orange peel (use a vegetable peeler) to a shallow wide pan. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and stir in the honey after about 10 minutes, when the syrup has cooled slightly. Leave to cool completely.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan (200°C) and line 2-3 trays with parchment paper.
3. For the filling, finely chop the walnuts and mix together with cinnamon and cloves.
4. For the biscuits, combine the rest of dry ingredients in a large bowl: flour, semolina, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and spices.
5. In another bowl, combine the brandy, olive oil, zest of 2 oranges and 50ml of orange juice.
6. Add the wet ingredients into the dry flour mixture and mix briefly to form a smooth and soft oily dough. If the dough cracks easily when you roll and flatten (see below) add another 25ml of oil to the mixture.
7. Weigh out 30g portions of dough (about one dessertspoon), roll into balls and flatten between your palms to make a 7cm disc. Spoon 1 level teaspoon of the chopped walnuts into the middle and encase in the dough by pinching the sides and ends together and then compressing in your hands to make a long oval (egg) shape. Arrange the ovals on baking sheets, leaving at least 3cm between biscuits to allow even cooking. Press a fork into the top of the biscuits to create dimples or lines.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden brown.
9. Plunge the hot biscuits into the syrup in batches of 3 or 4 for 10-20 seconds so that the syrup soaks through to the centre, flipping over halfway. Don’t leave the biscuits in the syrup too long or they may break apart.
10. Return the biscuits to the baking trays and leave to cool completely.
11. Before serving, decorate the tops with a drizzle of the remaining syrup or honey and the remaining chopped nuts. If using chocolate, melt the chocolate and olive oil together gently (in a dish placed above a pan of simmering water) and drizzle over, dip, or coat the biscuits before decorating with nuts and leaving to set.