«zézette de sète» extra crispy white wine cookies«zézette de sète» extra crispy white wine cookies«zézette de sète» extra crispy white wine cookies«zézette de sète» extra crispy white wine cookies«zézette de sète» extra crispy white wine cookies«zézette de sète» extra crispy white wine cookies«zézette de sète» extra crispy white wine cookies«zézette de sète» extra crispy white wine cookies«zézette de sète» extra crispy white wine cookies

A simple and delightfully sweet and crispy cookie, that crossed the Mediterranean from Oran in Algeria to Sète (near Montpellier) in the south of France in the 70’s and whose official invention and evocative naming only came about at the end of the 90’s !

The French and/or Europeans who were born and raised in Algeria, until their return to France after Algeria’s independence were referred to as the “pieds-noirs” (or black-feet) and their cuisine evolved as a mixture of cultures and customs, like this recipe.

This sugar-coated cookie, made of flour, white or rosé wine, sugar, light olive oil and typically flavored with some vanilla and sometimes orange blossom extracts is a relatively recent invention.

It’s name “zézette”, humorously referring to its shape, was coined by clients purchasing these “little willy” shaped cookies and seems to have stuck.

About a year and half ago, I was in Montpellier for an organized international meeting and event between France and Africa and the caterers proposed these little cookies with coffee. I adored them and when I asked what they were called, the answer was always accompanied by a smile and a giggle. 

I was back in Montpellier about 2 weeks ago and these delights reappeared on our lunch table, as we were sitting in the sun under a parasol, accompanying some home-made ice cream and a coffee. I had no choice but to make them at home, once back in my kitchen in Paris.

My version is a simple as the original but I like to add some malt extract powder to the flour which makes all baked goods taste better and I add extra orange blossom water, alongside the vanilla, because it seems logical that orange blossoms are always more readily available in Northern Africa as well as Southern Europe, than vanilla beans are, travelling from so far away.

The cookies are usually finger-shaped but I prefer the look of the tapered logs, becoming evening crispier and more golden at the ends.

I made quite a big batch, since they can be stored for so very long, in a tin, since there’s no milk, nor egg, nor butter in them.

I’ll usually crunch on one or two with a coffee or tea and I think you should too ! … :)

«zézette de sète» extra crispy white wine cookies


45 cookies x 15 grams each


cookie dough :

  • 375 grams (3 cups) all-purpose flour
  • optional : 8 grams (1 tbsp) barley malt extract powder 
  • 4 grams (1 tsp) double-strength baking powder
  • 1 gram (¼ tsp) fine sea salt
  • 100 grams (½ cup) golden or white cane sugar
  • 120 ml (½ cup) white wine (or rosé wine)
  • 110 grams (½ cup) light olive oil (or half olive oil & half vegetable oil)
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) vanilla extract
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) orange blossom water

sugar coating :

  • 100 grams (½ cup) white granulated sugar


  • sift the flour in a bowl and mix with the baking powder, salt and the barley malt extract powder (if using, but if not using, simply add 1 tbsp extra flour) and set aside
  • *note : barley malt extract powder adds more flavor to all baked goods, from cookies to cakes and breads and usually is added at a ratio of 1 tsp of malt powder for each 1 cup of flour used …
  • mix the sugar, white wine, oil and extracts together in a separate bowl and whisk well and set aside
  • combine the liquid ingredients with the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until smoother and elastic
  • shape into a ball, place in a bowl and cover with plastic film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
  • separate the dough into 45 smaller balls (about 15-16 grams each or the size of a small walnut) and roll between your palms until smooth and round, place them in plate and refrigerate again for 30 minutes (unless the space you are in is cool enough)
  • prepare a flat dish with raised sides and fill with at least ½ cup of white sugar for coating the cookies
  • roll one-third (approximately 15) of the balls on a clean work surface (do not sprinkle the work surface with flour) into longer and thinner logs and work outwards with both palms to taper the ends so that they are thicker in the middle and thinner towards the ends (each should measure between 12 and 13 cm long)
  • *note : keep the remaining 30 balls of dough refrigerated until you need to prepare them; I do 15 at a time, waiting for each batch to bake before starting another batch …
  • preheat the oven to 175°C-180°C
  • place each piece of tapered dough in the sugar and coat well on all sides and lay the cookies one by one on a large baking tray or sheet, covered with baking paper 
  • bake the 1st sheet of cookies on the middle or lower rack for 22-25 minutes maximum until the cookies are golden and crispier (rotate the baking sheet once after 11 or 12 minutes) and then repeat the shaping, coating and baking 2 more times for the remaining unbaked cookies
  • *note : as the 1st baking sheet is in the oven, start preparing the 2nd batch of cookies, rolling, tapering and sugar-coating them, so that the oil in the dough does not seep out before baking and so that the sugar coating  is not absorbed too quickly by the oily dough as it sits waiting on the counter at room temperature, before baking …
  • when the cookies are all baked, let them cool down completely and place them in a tin or a container for up to several weeks or 1 month.