When I have a dinner party, I always plan dessert first. So it's fitting that I am telling you first about the perfect end to a Moroccan meal; the rest will have to wait.
Moroccan almond cookies are chewy and soft on the inside, and taste like marzipan.
Last weekend I cooked for a dozen or so friends from my Moroccan-inspired repertoire--there were blood orange margaritas and bacon-wrapped dates. There were jumbo slices of cumin-crusted cauliflower with a tahini sauce. There were chickpeas smashed with preserved lemons, rainbow chard sprinkled with preserved lemons, and spicy Moroccan chicken skewers doused with a sauce of--you guessed it--preserved lemon vinaigrette.
This rainbow chard with preserved lemons makes use of the bitter green's leaves and stems.
After all, preserved lemons are Morocco's greatest culinary contribution to the world. They may be Morocco's greatest contribution to the world, period, according to Mourad Lahlou (see below).
Chickpeas are smashed together with olive oil, preserved lemon and parsley. Cauliflower is coated with cumin and roasted, then drizzled with a tahini sauce.
There was my new favorite farro salad with dates and almonds, and a coriander-spiced mash of butternut squash that paired amazingly well with the Bordeauxs we were pouring.
This make-ahead salad of farro, dates, and almonds improves as it sits at room temperature for a few hours.
All these recipes will have to wait. My friends insisted that I share the recipe for the cookies first. Ironically, this was the fastest, easiest, simplest dinner party dessert I have ever made. Moroccan Almond Cookies are chewy, yet they retain a nice exterior crunch. Reminiscent of my favorite Sicilian amaretti cookies, these not too sweet two-bite cookies are the perfect end to a spicy--and über-healthy--Moroccan meal.
Homemade harissa, the ubiquitous hot sauce of Morocco, is served straight up and toned down with créme fråiche.
These cookies wouldn't be served for dessert in Morocco where it's not part of the culture to end a meal with sweets. But in the afternoon, when friends and relatives are making the rounds to visit, these cookies would be served at tea with a platter of fruit, a bowl of pistachios, and maybe some honey and dates.
Moroccan Almond Cookies are perfect with kumquats.
Hence the easiest dinner party dessert I have ever thrown together. The Moroccan Almond Cookies were devoured in between bites of sweet and sour kumquats, tart gooseberries, and the rest of the wine.
It wasn't until I had made my fifth batch in as many days (they kept disappearing before I could take their picture) that I realized these cookies are the perfect dessert for gluten-free guests. If it weren't for the tiny splash of egg white that holds them together, they'd also be vegan. They just may be my favorite cookie of all time, gluten-free or gluten-ful. And that says a lot from a chocoholic like me.
Moroccan Almond Cookies
Makes about 24 cookies
This recipe is adapted from Mourad Lahlou's book Mourad New Moroccan. I've adjusted it for our Jackson Hole altitude of 6500 feet. If you live closer to sea level, follow the amounts in parentheses.
There are two brands of almond paste available locally, and both work well. The Solo almond paste comes in an 8 ounce can; the Odense almond paste comes in a 7 ounce tube.
- 1 egg white (use only 1 tablespoon at sea level)
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 7 ounces almond paste (use 8 ounces at sea level)
- 3/4 cup skin-on whole almonds (unsalted)
- 3 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3/4 tsp. baking powder (use 1 tsp. at sea level)
- Pinch of Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar (for coating the balls of dough)
When they start to crack and take on some color, they are done. They will firm up as they cool.
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF (325ºF at sea level). Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven.
- Line a baking sheet with a Silpat mat, or with parchment paper sprayed with cooking oil.
- Combine egg white, almond and vanilla extracts in a small cup. Set aside.
- Place almond paste, almonds, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 1 minute, or until the nuts are finely ground. With the food processor running, pour the egg white mixture through the top, and process just until the dough comes together in a ball.
- Scoop up just less than 1 tablespoon of dough for each cookie, and roll it into a nice ball. Place on the cookie sheet at least 1 inch apart. (The cookie dough may be refrigerated like this for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 1 month.)
- Roll each ball of dough in the powdered sugar, and place it back on the baking sheet. (I squeeze all the cookies onto one rack because I hate doing dishes, but Lahlou recommends using 2 racks.)
- Bake for 13 minutes, or until they start to slightly crack and take on some color. (At sea level, they will usually be done after 12 minutes.)
- Cool on racks and eat the same day.
|File Size: ||145 kb|
|File Type: || docx|
Blood oranges are in season. I highly recommend juicing a dozen or so, and making a pitcher of margaritas: 1/2 c. blood orange juice + 2 T. lime juice + 3 T. Cointreau + 7 T. tequila.