Passover Wine Cookies 

Guy Ben Harush

40 minutes

55 cookies

Passover wine cookies

Passover wine cookies. Photo by: Matan Choufan

Every year in the spring, a few weeks before Seder, wine cookies appear on the shelves in stores around Israel. These Passover cookies are a staple in many homes — but not all since. While the dough isn’t deemed chametz, it is considered “rich matzah” (when matzah is mixed with juice), which observant Ashkenazi families don’t eat during the holiday. However, ones made by Papushado and Gattegno Brothers are an essential part of the holiday for Separdi families. 

Asif’s culinary director, Guy Ben Harush, fondly recalls them from his childhood. “In our family, they liked to invent all kinds of customs around Pesach. I come from a large family. My father, who comes from a religious home, has eight brothers and sisters. One of the customs that we practiced at Pesach was to distribute wine cookies only to the first-born boys in each family, to make them feel special among all the brothers. I wasn’t the first-born and it always bothered me and felt terribly unfair that the wine cookies were only given to the first-born.”

Before the holiday, Ben Harush scoured Asif’s library for a recipe that could help him recreate the memory of those cookies, this time in his home kitchen. He experimented with an old recipe for nut and spiced wine cookies in “Kosher for Passover” by Nira Russo, published in 1986 (the book is available for reference at Asif’s library.) And he tweaked it until the final result matched his memory. “I wanted to bake cookies that would evoke the flavors, without compromising on the wine and the matzah meal.” He replaced the neutral oil with olive oil and changed the seasoning from cloves to fennel seeds. 

Inspired by his Moroccan roots, Ben Harush says: “We intentionally took it in a more North African direction.” The end result reminds him of Moroccan flavoring “or Arab cuisine in general, like the Druze zarad cookies; dry cookies with fennel seeds.”


1 cup walnuts

2 cups matzah meal

½ cup potato flour

⅔ cup sugar

1 pinch salt

½ teaspoon fennel seeds 

⅔ cup (160ml) olive oil

1 large egg

⅔ cup (160ml) dry white wine

1 lemon, zested 

For the glaze:

½ cup powdered sugar

2 teaspoons white wine

Special Equipment

cookie cutter measuring 4cm (1½ inches) in diameter

  1. Place the walnuts, matzah meal, potato flour, sugar, salt and ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds in the bowl of a food processor and grind to a fine powder
  2. Add the olive oil, egg, wine, and lemon zest and mix until the dough comes together. Add the remaining fennel seeds and mix for 20 seconds.
  3. Preheat the oven to 170C (350F). Roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper until it reaches a thickness of 1cm (½ inch). Using a cookie cutter, cut out cookies and transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake until the cookies are set and golden, about 15 minutes.
  4. Prepare the glaze: Beat the powdered sugar and wine using a fork, to a consistency similar to tahini that is easy to spread. Using a knife, apply a thin layer of the glaze onto each cookie. Allow the glaze to set and harden, about 30 minutes.