After four delicious yet filling Moroccan dishes, we hope that you still have a little bit of room for the last course of our Moroccan meal: Almond Briouats.
Moroccan cuisine presents a large variety of finger food, served as appetizers as well as entrees. Among the other dishes we find the extremely popular briouats, pastries made of the thin warga (a thin phyllo sheet, as seen in last week’s blog) filled with meat or fruit, folded in a triangular or cylindrical shape and then fried or baked. Powder sugar or spices are often sprinkled on top of them before serving.
Almond Briouats are one of the most popular versions, consumed both during special occasions and as an occasional snack with a cup of tea. This dish is simply addicting with its orange and cinnamon taste covered often with honey to increase the sweetness and savor.
If you don’t have warga we remind you that you can always use phillo dough, which you can cut in stripes and fold into triangles, or if you prefer you can roll up in cylinders (similar to spring rolls).
Make Almond Briouats for a house warming party, for your kids, as dessert after dinner, or simply as a snack that can always come handy during long work days. Wherever, whenever, it’s always time for a little Almond Briouat!
For the Filling
1 kg (2 lb. 3 oz.) almonds
400 g (1 3/4 cup) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or more to taste
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon mastic or gum arabic powder
125 g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
80 ml (1/3 cup) orange flower water
For Folding the Briouats
1 kg warqa
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 or 2 egg yolks
For Cooking the Briouats
vegetable oil, for frying
1.25 kg (45 oz.) honey
1 to 2 tablespoons orange flower water
Blanch and peel the almonds. Leave to dry thoroughly before proceeding.
Fry half of the blanched almonds. (Leave the other 1/2 kg of almonds raw.) To fry the almonds, heat about 1/4″ of vegetable oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Fry the almonds in batches, stirring constantly, until light to medium golden brown. Each batch should take 5 minutes or longer, providing the oil isn’t too hot. Don’t allow the almonds to get any darker, as they’ll continue to color once removed from the oil. Transfer the almonds to a strainer or tray lined with paper towels and leave to cool.
Grind the almonds with the sugar. In a food processor, grind the fried almonds with about half of the sugar until they turn to paste. Turn out the almond paste into a bowl or onto a large tray, and repeat the grinding with the blanched almonds and remaining sugar.
Mix the almond paste filling. Combine the ground almonds and sugar with the cinnamon, salt, gum arabic powder, butter and orange flower water. Use your hands to mix and knead the paste thoroughly.
Shape the almond paste into balls. Roll all of the almond paste into equal-sized balls. For the small 5 cm briouats shown above, the balls were made cherry-sized. You can make them larger if you want a larger pastry.
Fold the briouats. Enclose each ball of almond paste in a strip of warqa dough. For cherry-sized balls, use approximately a 5 cm wide strip of dough.
Spread the center of the strip with a little melted butter and place the almond paste filling near the bottom. Wrap up the bottom of the dough to enclose the filling, and shape the triangle by folding the filling – up to the right and then left – until you reach the end of the dough. Each time you fold, you’ll be flipping the bottom corner of the triangle up to the opposite edge of the dough. Trim the excess dough to make a neat flap, dab a little egg yolk on the flap to help seal and tuck it into the fold.
Fry the briouats and soak them in honey. Heat 1/4″ to 1/2″ of oil in a deep frying pan. At the same time, heat 1 kg of honey mixed with 1 tablespoon of orange flower water in a second pot. Remove the honey from the heat when it is quite hot and becomes lightly foamy on top.
Fry the briouat in batches in the hot oil, stirring gently and turning over several times, until light golden brown. On average, this should take from 5 to 7 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the fried pastries directly from the oil to the hot honey.
Soak the first batch of pastries in the hot honey while you fry the second batch of briouats. Occasionally submerge the briouats by pushing down on them gently. When the next batch of briouats is almost ready to be removed from the oil, transfer the ones which have been soaking in honey to a strainer.
As you work with the remaining batches of briouats the volume of honey will decrease as it’s absorbed by the pastries. You’ll find that instead of submerging the pastries, you’ll need to turn them over several times to ensure that they’re getting coated with honey. If the honey eventually seems to cool and thicken, heat it again to thin it. You can also add more honey to the pot if you find it easier to work that way.
Cool and store the briouats.
After the briouats have drained for a few minutes, transfer them to a platter or tray to finish cooling. Leave them for an hour or longer to cool thoroughly before storing.
The briouats can be kept in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for a month, or in the freezer for several months. If storing in the freezer, place a sheet of plastic wrap between layers to make it easy to remove only as many cookies as you need.