Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery Recipes: The Famous Sables, Nisu, Buckwheat Chocolate-Chip Cookies, and More
Umber Ahmad opened Mah-Ze-Dar in New York City in 2016. The bakery quickly became a source for some of the best and most interesting pastries around. Ahmad has been a keen baker since she was a child and learned to braid Finnish sweet breads with her nanny. Her family lived in Michigan but traveled to Pakistan every summer. They also traveled widely and Ahmad soaked up the flavors of the places she visited. Now, she uses those flavors magically in her sublime baked goods.
Cardamom is one of her favorite spices. She uses in in her take on nisu, the aforementioned braided sweet bread from Finland, and also in her creamy Pakistani rice pudding. She's also a master with chocolate, using it sometimes in unexpected ways; adding bittersweet chocolate chunks to granola takes this breakfast into new territory. It also rounds out the palate of flavors in the granola which is packed with nuts, dried fruit, coconut, and seeds. There's also chocolate in her take on the sablé cookie. This beloved, buttery French take on shortbread enters a whole new realm in Ahmad's version, which is made with cocoa and white chocolate. The result is a radically delicious treat, almost a hybrid of sablé and black-and-white cookie.
Everyone makes chocolate-chip cookies, and just when you think you've tasted everything possible, Ahmad ups the ante. Her Buckwheat Chocolate-Chip Cookies truly are game changers. The recipe uses only a small amount of buckwheat flour, so it's not a gluten-free option, but that 1/3 cup gives the cookies a hearty flavor that sets off the sweetness of the chocolate. In short, it's sure to have you reaching for more. A sprinkle of flaky sea salt on top brings all it all together.
From Banker to Baker
Umber Ahmad is the baker behind all these delectable treats. She's also a successful financial consultant and a licensed pilot.
Buckwheat Chocolate-Chip Cookies with Sea Salt
Buckwheat flour, the star ingredient in Japanese soba noodles, gives her salted chocolate-chip cookies a toasty undertone.
Baklava With Lemon-Honey Syrup
"I grew up with baklava," says Ahmad. "My mom made it for bake sales when other moms were bringing brownies out of a box." For a twist, she mixes lemon into the traditional honey syrup.
Though sablé cookies are a classic French confection, Ahmad's dark-and-white-chocolate version was inspired in part by her family's native Pakistan. "In our culture, it's all about having just the right little sweet with your tea," she says. "That's where the idea to do this small, not-too-indulgent treat came from." Her pared-down recipe includes Valrhona cocoa and fresh creamery butter.
Pakistani Rice Pudding (Kheer)
"Cardamom is used in so many different cultures in so many different ways," says Ahmed. One of the ways she uses this favorite spice is in her Pakistani kheer, a rich and creamy rice pudding garnished with pistachios and on special occasions flecks of gold leaf.
Date Malva-Pudding Cakes
Her version of a South African malva-pudding cake uses dates puréed with cream in place of the traditional apricot preserves.
Finnish Cardamom Bread (Nisu)
Ahmad mastered making this braided sweet bread as a kid in northern Michigan with the help of a beloved Finnish babysitter, the woman who introduced her to the wonders of dough and batter.
Granola with Dark Chocolate, Olive-Oil, and Maple
Bittersweet chocolate adds a rich touch to this dried fruit-and nut-packed granola.