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Makrout Lâassel | Algerian Almond Filled Honeyed Semolina Cookie {EID AL FITR RECIPE}


بِسْــــــــــــــــــــــمِ اﷲِارَّحْمَنِ ارَّحِيم
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته


 Makrout is a traditional North African semolina cookie. Makrout, also spelled Maqrout, Makroudh, Maqrut, Mqaret, Imqaret or Makroud. The word makrout in arabic means "diamond shaped" as these small delights are traditional diamond shaped. They orginated in Tunisia but has made it's way to Algeria and Morocco. And there is even a variation also in the Mediterranean country of Malta.


Makrout is one of the classic traditional North African cakes along with Tcherek el ariane, Tcherek m'saker, Dziriette, Knidlette and Baklava. Makrout Lâassel remains one of Algeria's most popular pastry. Fried or baked with a stuffing almonds or date, Makrout in it's various forms is present on all celebration tables. 

Makrout is a simple cook, made with everyday ingredients from the Algerian pantry. Decorating Makrout can be simple as using the back of knife to make a few score cuts, r using a glass to make circular imprints or using an impression stamp or even more detailed by using special tweezers to create pretty designs. 

Makrout Lâassel is by far I think my favorite of all the makrouts out there ... While I like dates, I much prefer the almond filling. I like the crunch as you bite into the semolina that gives way to the fragant almond center. Makrout is rich and caloric cookies, eaten one is often more then enough for the stomach. While Makrout are addictive, beware of eating too many. I often don't bother dipping the makrout in the honey after baking, as it's sweet enough for me. Most Algerian cooks dip and then double dip their Makrout in honey. So of course, when guests come by, I dip my Makrout in the honey to be authentic.

Please note, I posted this recipe before several years but have taken some new pictures and decided to share this delicious treat again. Here are the photos from years back, just for fun!

Algerian cooks use measures for baking. For ease, I've made one measure = 1 American cup or about 250g in metric. If you choose to use the measure then you can use any cup ( large coffee mug, tea cup or even small shot glass style tea glass) for your measure. It will work fine with any of these.



Algerian honeyed semolina almond cookie
active prep time: 20 mins | inactive prep time: - overnight   bake time: 20 mins 
This recipe below yields about 50 makrout. 
FOR THE DOUGH:

  • 3 cups - 750g semoule moyen (medium grained semolina) 
  •  ½ cup melted butter 
  •  ½ cup oil 
  •  ¼ cup flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 TBS vanilla powder or 1 package of vanilla sugar (not extract or essence)
  • ½ cup - 120mL + or - warm water +  maz'har (orange blossom water)

FOR THE FILLING:

    • 2 cups - 500g of ground almonds
    • 1 cup - 250g sugar
    • one generous pinch of cinnamon
    • one generous TBS of vanilla 
    • one small splash of almond essence (optional)
    • Oil to fry in

    FOR DIPPING:
    • Honey to dip (about 2 cups should be enough)
    • 3 TBS maz'har (orange blossom water)
    • Optional garnish of sesame seeds


    MIX  the semolina, salt and butter in a large bowl. Algerian usually use smen or ghee, but I find I don't like the aftertaste. Rub the grains of semolina between your fingers, so that all the grains are well coated with the butter/oil mixture.

    COVER with a kitchen towel and set aside. Let it rest like this for at least 2 hours. But ideally, as I do let it to rest overnight. Then work with it in the morning. The dough should be be like wet oily sand in the morning. 

    MEANWHILE, mix all the ingredients for the filling.Bring the almond mixture together to form a ball, then form 2 long logs in the above photo.

    THE next morning, slowly add in the blossom water and water, until you have obtained a soft and homogenous dough. Don't overwork the dough, just enough to have a smooth and flexible dough that  forms into a ball easily.

    NOW flattened the 2 balls to form retangular long. Then flattened even more,  form a cavity in which the filling will be placed in. Place the filling in the center of the cavity. 

    CLOSE the cavity by folding over to close the filling. Press the edges together tightly. shaping the dough around the filling. Gently roll the logs on your work surface smoothing out the log. Cut the logs in half if it is more managable for you.

    CUT the dough roll into equal losanges - diagonal pieces as above. If you like, you can press in a pattern with a cookie cutter or by using the back of your knife. This is optional. You can leave the Makrout plain without any decoration, if you prefer (as in the above photo)
    NOW reshape the cut ends to have a nice uniform look.
    REPEAT the steps until you have used all the dough.

    SET the makrout aside to rest, as you heat up a saucepan with oil - about three fingers deep. And in another pan, heat up the honey syrup.

    TEST the oil with a small piece of the dough. If the oil, is hot enought, fry the makrout in small batched until goliden.  Be very careful, as boiling hot oil is very dangerous!

    ONCE the markout are golden but not brown yet, remove from the oil and allow to drain the excess oil on a kitchen paper towel.

    DIP the makrout in the honey; allowing the honey to absorb for a minute or two. Drain. Then resoak in the honey. Drain again. And optionally garnish with sesame seeds.

    Makrout is best fresh. It will stay fresh and solid for about 3-5 days. After that it is still edible but will become crumbly. I don't advise freezing makrout as it will crumble apart. 



    For a nice presentation place each makrout in a dainty little cupcake paper holder. It also helps absorb a lot of the honey. Makrout is best eaten with hot North African style mint green tea!


    Trouble Shooting
    If you test one makrout in the hot oil and you find it breaks apart, then don't fear. This happens. It comes down to the quality of your semolina. Best thing, to do if this happens is just place all your makrout on a baking sheet then bake in a 180°C - 350°F oven for about 20 minutes. Making sure the Makrout isn't burned on the bottom. Then remove from the oven, then soak in honey.

    Variation
     You can use almonds, walnuts or any other nut of your choice for the inside. Even dates.

    Subsitute
    You can use canola, olive, smen or even all butter here. Olive oil gives a slight background tone of fruityness.

    Shaping
    You can shape the Makrout into different shapes by using molds, for a more decorative touch. Or alternatively forming the Makrout into balls, then impressing lines on them using the back of the knife. Super easy and makes you look like some confectionary genius! 


    You can also find makrout impression called "tampon de makrout" here in Algeria or even around the Internet like at HalwatiShop.

    Cooking Alternative
    You can easily bake these cookies in a 180°C  350°F oven instead of frying them

     Algerian, Tunisian, North African, Eid al Fitr, Bars and Cookies


     WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE EID TREAT? 





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    2 comments:

    1. Lovely cookies. Those markout impressions are wonderful for making so many other recipes as well.

      ReplyDelete
    2. I love cakes and cookies made with semolina and I am now discovering this pastry through your post; would love to try it soon at my house!

      ReplyDelete

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