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Qalb bel louz | Algerian Semolina Spoon Dessert with Almond Center



بِسْــــــــــــــــــــــمِ اﷲِارَّحْمَنِ ارَّحِيم
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته


Ramadan Moubarek to you all!

It is Ramadan as you all know ... many family and friends gather after the Taraweeh prayer for the traditional Algerian sâahra or soirée to chat, visit and enjoy each other's company. Guests are treated to table filled with such sweets as nuts, Halwa Turc, Baklava, Zlabia, Khoubz el Bey, Khoubz Tounis, Besboussa ... and of course Qalb bel louz!


Qalb bel louz (also spelled Qalb ellouzKalb bel louz or Kalb ellouz) is a northern Algeria specialty which was inherited from the culinary traditions of Andulasia. It's known around Algiers as Qalb bel louz, which simply means ' heart of almond' meaning the middle has an almond layer. In the East it's known as H'rissa in the Eastern part of Algeria and as Chamiya in the Western part of Algeria.  


This very sweet spoon dessert is in the same genré as other syrup drenched dessert Besboussa or Namourah, but should not be considered with. Qalb bel louz is a unique Algerian specialty. It's a super rich semolina based spoon dessert that is baked then drenched with an orange blossom scented syrup overnight so the semolina absorbs all of its fragance. Cutting through a slice of Qalb bel louz is just experiencing Ramadan in Algeria. 

The large grained semolina is the important part of this recipe. Semolina is also known as farina or cream of wheat in some countries. If you can't find the large grain semolina, using corn meal is an alternative option.





Qalb bel louz
Algerian semolina dessert with almond center
active prep time: 10-15 mins | inactive prep time: 30min - 24hrs| cook time: 2 hrs 
8-10 servings



FOR THE SEMOLINA BASE:
  • 500 g - 2 cups large grained semolina (the grain called semoule grosse in Algeria is used) 
  • about 2  TBS of maz'har (orange flower water or orange blossom water)
  • 250 g - 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 125g - ¼ cup melted butter, smen or ghee
  • A 125 ml - about ½ room temperature water
  • A pinch of salt

FOR THE FILLING:
  • 250 g - 1 cup almonds toasted and coarsely ground
  • 50 g - 3 TBS sugar
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 TBS orange flower water
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • optional also add ½ tsp cinnamon or caradmom
FOR THE SYRUP:
  • 500g - 2 cups of granulated white sugar
  • 1 L - 4 cups of water
  • juice of 1 small lemon
  • 1 TBS of orange blossom water
  • 2 TBS of butter
DECORATION:
  • Whole almonds
  • 100g butter



      Begin by preparing preparing the cake base:

    IN a dry pan, lightly toast the semolina grains stirring constantly. Be sure to watch it carefully as it can easily burn. Toasting the semolina will add a slightly nutty taste to the Qalb bel louz and help with the absorption of the syrup. Once toasted, set aside to cool. It's need to be cool enough to handle with your hands.

    MELT the butter in a small sauce pan.

    IN a large bowl add the semolina and sugar. 

    GRADUALLY mix in the butter with your hands rubbing the grains the same way you would rub butter grains of couscous. 

    ADD in the orange blossom water and water slowly in the same manner in which you rubbed the semolina, gradually slowly rubbing the water into the grains. It should feel damp but not too wet now. Kinda like wet sand.

    PLACE in the fridge overnight so the semolina grains swell.

    THE next day you can prepare the syrup. This syrup will keep for a long time, so you can easily double or triple the recipe so you have some for next time. You can store the syrup on the countertop or even fridge.
    HEAT sugar, water, and lemon juice on medium fire. Stir to dissolve the sugar completely.

    TURN the fire down to a low simmer. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the syrup is thick - do not stir once it reaches a boil. 

    REMOVE from heat, add orange blossom water and butter. Allow to cool. It is important that the syrup be cold before pouring over the Qalb bel louz. 

    GRIND the almonds in a food processor or other kitchen machine. The almonds can be as coarse or fine as you like them.

    COMBINE the ingredients for the filling. Set aside. 

    TAKE the semolina out of the fridge and allow to come up to room temperature for about half hour.

    BREAK up any lumps of semolina with your fingers, in the same manner in which couscous grains are broken up after steaming.

    MEANWHILE, butter a your baking dish. The type of baking dish you use is up to you. Traditionally in Algeria a huge round baking dish is used, then the Qalb bel louz is cut into retangular slices. You can use a round 21- 24cm tart pan or square 23 cm square,  brownie pan,  a 
    34cm x 20cm retangular pan or even a 33x 23cm retangular dish. But keep in mind the Qalb bel louz should be thin as in the pictures and you'll need enough room for the syrup.

    THEN preheat your oven to 180°C or 350°F.

    DIVIDE the semolina mixture in half, then layer one portion of the mixture on the bottom.

    SMOOTH out the mixture with the back of a spoon. But don't pack the mixture in. 

    NOW  add the almond filling. Smooth gently and evenly. But be careful to not compact the layers. 


    THEN using the remaining semolina mixture and smooth out evenly. The Qalb bel louz should be about 4-5cm in width - top to bottom. If it larger then that you need to either take some out or use a larger mold. The reason for this is, that you need space for the syrup you will be pouring on the top later.

    SCORE the Kalb bel louz for easier portioning and cutting later. Brush with the additional 100g of butter. You may or may not need all of it. Place an almond in the center of each portion. 


    PLACE in a preheated oven of 180° - 350° degree  for 1 hour. Keep monitoring the Qalb bel louz to ensure that the edges do not burn. If the edges are getting too browned or burned, lower the heat in your oven. The Qalb bel louz will be little more browned on the edges but should not be burned. Burned Qalb bel louz is bitter and untasty!

    REMOVE the cake from the oven. Then turn off your oven. Run your knife around the edges of the baking dish. And cut into portions where you scored the cake.


    POUR the room temperature syrup immediately over the cake. The cake will absorb the syrup - it will appear swampy - like your cake is ruined. Don't worry this is how it should be. And depending on the size of your pan you may only need about 3/4 of the total syrup for absorbition. Test if the syrup has absorbed by gently pushing the semolina aside (at the edges) with a knife.


    RETURN the cake to the oven for 5-8 minutes. Remove and re-cut the cake into shape again.
    It will take about an hour  for the syrup to absorb into the cake and to set. But many Algerian women say a great Qalb bel louz needs to set overnight so I always let it set overnight and serve it the next day.


    When placing onto a plate, be sure to use a wide spatula as this dessert is very crumbly and sticky. 

    Serve with mint tea and some nuts or Halwa turc as a part of your Ramadanques Soirée.

    Saha Ftourkm!

    The top of the Qalb bel louz will be sort of harder then the bottom. Do not worry; this is how it should be!

    Quantity
    If a larger quantity is desired-simply double the recipe and bake in a rectangular pan. It is important that you use a pan that will allow you to add quite a bit of syrup without spilling over the edges.

    Subsitution

    f you can't find large grained semolina, using medium grained semolina is fine. If you don't find semolina in your area try looking for Cream of Wheat or large grained Farina. These are actually semolina just with different name. But don't use semolina flour - the type used for breads.

    Gluten- Free Adaption

    If you're on a Gluten Free diet, you can subsitute the semolina in this recipe for equal amounts of cornmeal.

    Variation
    You can easily use other nuts in this recipe instead of the almonds. Cashews and hazelnuts are lovely too here!

    Video


    Here are three videos to help you understand the step by process of making Qalb bel louz

    Algerian, dessert, Ramadan


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