These Persian Rosettes, nan panjareh (window cookies), are delicate treats. Similar to funnel cakes, they are deep fried and dusted with powdered sugar. And during the winter months, they look like snowflakes, don’t they?
Those that know me, know that I am quiet and private person. Although I have strong opinions, my blog is a place for me to express myself creatively, not politically. I am half Persian, half American with a Jewish and Bahai background. We lived in Iran when I was very young, and left for the U.S. right before the revolution in 1978.
I grew up in Houston, Texas and my mother frequently dragged me to our neighborhood Presbyterian church during the turbulent Iran-Iraq war years seeking peace and prayer. No one else in the family would go to church with my mom, so I was the lucky candidate. While my mom attended services, I would sneak out of Sunday school and hold the babies in daycare.
As a teen, I even participated in a few of the youth programs at that church. And what do I do when I get older? I marry a very Americanized Persian man who was raised Muslim. And my kids are pretty much exposed to all of this.
Although we may not follow any one particular religion, my husband and I are very spiritual and we have raised our kids to be respectful of other’s religions. We say our prayers together, we celebrate Christmas, Persian New Year and a few other random holidays.
Several years ago, some friends of mine who consider ourselves “nearly Jews” started to get together to celebrate Hanukkah. We celebrate with a potluck of the traditional meal: brisket, latkes, kugel, challah and such. The kids play with the dreidel (and video games!) and gamble with their chocolate coins. Those that know the Hebrew prayer, recite what they know and the candles are lit.
For dessert, I started bringing Persian Rosettes (nan panjareh) because they are fried in oil. Their name translates to “window cookies.” They do look like intricate windows, don’t they?
What are Rosettes?
Rosettes are a traditional pastry found in many countries: Sweden, Norway, Finland, Turkey, Mexico, Sri Lanaka, Malaysia and Iran. Similar to the funnel cake, the nan panjareh are deep fried and then dusted with powdered sugar. You use a rosette iron, though, to form the shape, instead of drizzling the batter haphazardly into the oil.
Persian desserts were highly influenced by the French. So it is not surprising to see typically French desserts like rosettes, cream puffs and rolettes on the Persian dessert table.
What tools are needed to make rosettes?
The batter for nan panjareh is not very complicated to mix up. You can easily whip it with a hand mixer or whisk. If you have a deep fryer, that works wonderfully for frying up the rosettes because it keeps your oil at the temperature you set.
If you do not have a deep fryer, do not fret. I fry up my rosettes using a small pot filled with oil and it works out great. Just pay attention the oil as it sometimes gets a little too hot. If the oil gets too hot, your rosettes burn quickly.
The one piece of equipment that is essential for making nan panjareh is the rosette iron. Your iron can have make one or two rosettes at a time, depending on how many arms you have. I have an iron with two arms, which means I can get through the frying process faster!
Your rosette iron set usually comes with an assortment of attachments. I like using the above pictured pieces, a star and a flower. They are super festive for this time of year, looking like snowflakes dusted with snow.
How do you make rosettes?
The rosette iron must be heated in the hot oil prior to dipping it into the batter. This allows the batter to stick to the intricate design of the rosette mold. Once dipped into the batter, you deep fry the rosette, shaking the cookie off the iron to continue cooking until golden brown.
The key to successful rosette-making is dipping the rosette iron into the hot oil right before you dip it into the batter – each and every time. You also do not want the batter to go over the top of the rosette iron as it will be difficult to remove.
Once you dip the iron into the batter, you immediately place the rosette iron back into the hot oil. The oil will bubble up immediately making a great show for any on-lookers! You want the cookies to lightly brown before you attempt shaking them off the iron.
Once shaken off, continue to fry your rosettes until they are golden. You do not want to burn the rosettes so have a tray lined with paper towels for draining ready and waiting. If you are not using a deep fryer that has a basket for easy removal, I like using this Stainless Steel Spider Strainer when I need to scoop something out of the hot oil.
Place the rosettes open side down so that the oil can drain out of your rosettes. Once the cookies are dry, dust with powdered sugar. You can also make a simple icing (powdered sugar with water) and drizzle that over your rosettes instead.
Final thoughts about rosettes
One big difference between the Persian nan panjareh and other rosette recipes is that the Persian batter has no sugar. The sweetness is added after the cookies are fried with the powdered sugar dusted at the end. The Persian batter also has some rosewater in it, because Persian desserts always have a bit of rosewater in it!
I also fried these rosettes in extra virgin olive oil. Don’t think you can do that? Well, you can. You can read more about frying with olive oil here. You can also use any of your favorite frying oils, just choose one with mild flavor.
These beautiful rosettes resemble delicate snowflakes, which make them festive cookies for this time of the year. Perfect for a winter party, Christmas, Hanukkah or (if you are Persian) the first day of spring for Nowruz, the Persian New Year. A very multi-cultural treat, if you ask me.
Through food, we discover that all cultures across the world are not so different after all. Perhaps people of all religions can stop looking for what makes us different, and instead be pleasantly surprised to see how many similarities we all share.
- 2/3 cup cornstarch
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 4 large eggs
- 1 TBS rosewater
- 3 cup extra virgin olive oil *
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3 TBS finely chopped pistachios (optional)
- 1 tsp crushed dried rose petals (optional)
- Using an electric mixer, combine cornstarch, flour and milk until a thick paste is formed.
- In a second bowl, whisk together eggs and rosewater.
- Stir egg mixture into the flour mixture until combined thoroughly.
- In a heavy stainless-steel pot with high sides or deep fryer, heat oil to 380ºF/193ºC:
- It is extremely important that the oil is hot and ready. Test the oil by adding a drop of batter to the hot oil. If it bubbles and turns golden brown in about 20 seconds, the oil is ready.
- Submerge your rosette iron completely into the hot oil and hold it down for 2 minutes until the iron is piping hot. If the iron is not hot, the rosette batter will not stick to the irons.
- Once heated, dip the hot iron into the batter. DO NOT COVER THE TOP OF THE ROSETTE MOLD WITH BATTER!! Allow the batter to go up the sides of your rosette form, but do not cover the top or you will not be able to remove the rosette from the iron.
- Quickly submerge batter-covered rosette iron into the hot oil. Bubbles will form and surround your rosette.
- After 5-10 seconds, gently shake the rosette off the iron and continue to fry until golden, flipping the cookie over to brown evenly. Use a knife or chopsticks to help slide the rosette off the iron. Rosette should be golden and finished frying in about 30 seconds.
- Using a slotted spoon, chopsticks or small strainer remove rosette from hot oil and place rosettes open face down on a tray lined with paper towels to remove excess oil.
- Reheat rosette iron in hot oil and continue frying the rosettes in the same manner until batter is finished up.
- Periodically, remove any fried bits from your oil. Add more oil, as needed.
- If rosettes are browning too quickly and burning, reduce the heat of the oil.
- Once cooled, transfer rosettes to serving platter and dust with powdered sugar and if you like, pistachios and crushed rose petals.
Serving Suggestions: Rosettes keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container. They will soften slightly, depending on how humid the environment is. You can crisp them up again in a toaster oven prior to serving if this happens.
Cooking Tips: * Yes, you CAN fry with extra virgin olive oil. Read more here. You can also use vegetable oil, if you prefer.
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Serving Size:1 rosette
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 88 Total Fat: 3.3g Saturated Fat: 0.7g Cholesterol: 28mg Sodium: 18mg Carbohydrates: 12.9g Fiber: 0.2g Sugar: 5.5g Protein: 1.9g