Monday, 19 April 2010

Moroccan delicacies with almond and honey- Sbiaat & briouats bellouz.

These sweet little things are loaded with almond paste and honey..Many Moroccan sweets are usually based around honey, homemade almond paste, orange blossom water and arabic gum.




This recipe mostly comes in the shape of triangles called Briouates in reference to small letters or enveloppes. The traditionnal recipe is actually almond paste wrapped in thin sheets of dough called Warka or ouarka (Brick sheets or "feuilles de brick" that you can swap with phyllo dough although less crispy). After frying it, you need to dip it in honey flavored with Orange blossom water and mastic gum..


This practice of wrapping stuffing in a ouarka/warka sheet is quiet common and cover a large spectrum from sweet to savory and even both..

Feuilles de brick are mostly used in North Africa instead of the filo sheets used in the Middle East and anywhere else..It's softer and easy to handle..I find filo dough a bit tougher and needs more butter to give better results as far as Moroccan recipes are concerned..

Anyway..Let's go to the recipe..I've already had 2 pieces before writing this..It's so chewy from the inside and so crispy from the outside..Can't resist.

The filling of these almond briouates is 100% almond paste from blanched
almonds (no fried almonds added to make the almond paste)

Ingredients
For 7/8 people 
Prep: 30 min - Frying: 4 min by batch

- 14 ouarka/brik sheets (large)
- 300 g almond, blanched and peeled a few hours ahead.
- 150 g caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp of cinnamon (optional, not a Fassi practice though)
- 1/4 tsp of meska, crushed to powder with 1 tsp of caster sugar
- 2 tbsp of orange Blossom Water
- 1 tbsp of butter, melted

For finishing
- Oil (neutral flavor) for frying
- A mix of 1 kg of Eucalyptus Honey or a mix + 2 tbsps of orange blossom water  + 1/4 tsp of meska
- 1 egg yolk to bind the rolls

The same recipe in briouates version (triangles) which are usually
made small and never big

Preparation

Fry ½ of the quantity of the blanched almonds. We usually add them to warm oil before it heats up and fry them over medium heat to ensure they're fried through. Transfer to a sift to drain and set aside to cool.

Blend both versions separately with equal amount of sugar, cinnamon and orange blossom Water. Blend well to a paste. You need a reliable food processor for this.

Mix both almonds along with the rest of the ingredients. You need to get a compact paste.


You might add 1 tbsp of melted butter while blending in case the almond used is a bit “dry”. We use the "beldi" sort which is native to Morocco but you could use Italian almonds.

Divide the dough into small balls and roll in the shape of sticks 6 cm tall and 1 cm large. Cut the sheets into rectangular strips 10 cm large and 15 cm tall. Put the almond paste in one of the ends.Fold both long sides inwards to bring the borders to the middle and start rolling the sheet around the filling. Click here to see how to make this (although it's in french but you just need the photos).

Brush a bit of egg yolk on the tip of the sheet of brick to stick the cigar-shape or rectangular shape you just got. Give it a push with your fingers so you get an evenly distributed almond inside; You will get less oil in if you compact them and distribute evenly and that will help keeping them for a long time without have soggy sweets...Prick the rolls with a needle a couple of times.

Fry them in pan filled with hot oil and immediately dip in honey that you would flavor with 1 tbsp of orange blossom water and 1/2 tsp of crushed meska (to powder) and which you need to slightly warm so loosen it up.



Drain your cigars. Once cooled, transfer to a airtight container. I also use plastic ziploc where I line them up and place them in the freezer where they keep for months.

You can also keep them raw, in a freezer until the day you want to serve them, with an ice cream scoop for Dessert or a cup of tea for Tea Time.



Notes:

To blanch almonds, let them simmer in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain water and remove skin from almonds with the fingers. Layer them over a kitchen towel and rub them to dry before using them.

You can bake the blanched almonds instead of frying them. Place them in a preheated oven at 170 degrees C for 15 min or until golden from both sides. For this you have to flip them with a spatula a couple of time so they bake evenly.

You can make briouates and sbiaats ahead of time. Freeze them and fry them at least one day before you want to serve them. It's actually the best way to have a good texture. My family learned this from a famous Fassi caterer: make sbiaats and briouats ahead and freeze them for at least 24 hours then fry them by stacks in a warm oil which picks up heat as they turn golden.

You can also freeze them fried and honeyed. The recipe is freezer-friendly.

When you make almond sbiaat. It's important that you flatten them once shaped. It helps spreading the filling. When you want to fry them, stack them in 3 or 4 and "throw" them in the oil. It helps keeping their shape. We usually press the bulk with a frying spatula from the top so they don't float in the first minute of frying.


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