These are Armenian-style sweet buns. The brioche-like dough contains mahlep (aka mahlep, mahalab, mahleb, mahaleb, mahalep, mahlepi, machlepi or makhlepi), a spice ground from the inner kernels of cherry pits. Each bun is stuffed with dates, honey, cinnamon, cloves and pecans (the recipe called for walnuts, but we didn't have any on hand) and then coated with poppy seeds just before being put in the oven. (Mahlep is also featured in savoury rolls: Assyrian Spinach Pies.)
Mahlep (aka mahlep, mahalab, mahleb, mahaleb, mahalep, mahlepi, machlepi or makhlepi) is available in stores that sell Middle Eastern spices. Apparently, once opened, the powdered version deteriorates rather quickly. We put ours in the freezer to preserve it as best we can.
The original recipe suggested making buns twice the size of these. But as I was shaping them, I decided that with all that butter in the dough and the filling of pecans, dates and honey, they would be very rich. So I chose to make twice as many small buns.
We thought it would be nice to taste the spice without the dates and cinnamon. I made two small braided buns. They are equally delicious with the somewhat delicate yet pronounced flavour of the lovely perfumed mahlep.