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Tcherek M'saker | Algerian Almond Filled Crescent Cookies



بِسْــــــــــــــــــــــمِ اﷲِارَّحْمَنِ ارَّحِيم
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته


It's been a while, hasn't it? My summer holiday to Hungary was amazing. I'm sure you saw the pictures on Facebook. Then it was a rush for back to school ... then Eid al Adha. Crazy times, you know how that is all you moms out there. 

By reader's request today I'm sharing an Algerian cookie/biscuit recipe. It's a traditional Algerian gateaux  that is found almost all celebratory tables. It's called Tcherek m'saker. It is also known by other names like Corne de gazelle (horn of the gazelle) or even Kaab el ghzl (kneel of the gazelle)

Tcherek is an ancient traditional cookie unique to North Africa. It was mentioned the medevil cookbooks of Andulasia as being prepared for the caliphs of that time. The Tcherek was so prized even Baghdadi poet Abu Talib  al-Ma'mauni composed several sonnets singing its praises.

 Tcherek is a traditional, crescent shaped Algerian cookie stuffed with almonds that have been pulverized into a paste bound with orange blossom water and sugar. After the cookie is baked it is briefly steeped in more orange blossom water, then rolled in powdered sugar. Each bite gives way after one crunchy bite to a soft fragrant, marzipan-like interior.

The traditional medievel version of Tcherek was spiced cookie with an almond mazipan-like filling. The cookie then shaped into the crescent then baked until golden. With such interesting spices as black pepper, aniseed, cloves and ginger I can't help but wonder why the modern days versions have left these out. There are several modern day version of Tcherek. Moroccans have adapted this cookie by removing the outer cookie part altogether leaving the filling to be the whole cookie itself. Algerians have mostly kept to tradition with few differences with Tcherek m'saker (with powdered sugar coating) Tcherek m'assel (coated in honey), Tcherek metli ( with royal icing glaze), and finally Tcherek el ariane (without coating) is probably to the closest version of the orginal that we can find in modern times, since the medieval version wasn't soaked with qatr (sugar syrup) after baking. Either way, I can see why this ancient cookie is still much beloved today. In fact, Tcherek has made its way from the shores of North Africa around the Mediterranean and Europe with their own adaptions.

I stumbled upon this delicious recipe for an Algerian version from Djouza of Ma Cabine de Délices. I tried it out and was very happy with the results. Machallah they were easy to make, and very tender. I would like to share the recipe and link with you all today.




active prep time: 10 mins | inactive prep time: 1hr - overnight   bake time: 0 mins 
This recipe below yields about 50 truffles the size of a walnut. Making mini ones the yield will be double. And making them larger will yield less. 
adapted from Djouza

FOR THE DOUGH:
  • 1 kg - about 4 ½cups flour
  • 350g - 14 oz about 1 ½ cups melted butter
  • 5g - 1 tsp baking powder (half packet in Algeria and Europe)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 capful of orange blossom water
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 TBS honey
FOR THE FILLING:
  • 3 cups ground almonds
  • 1/3cup honey
  • vanilla
  • 1 knob or tsp of soft butter
  • 1/3 cup - 75mL or less orange blossom water
SYRUP AND ICING:
  • 2 cups of water
  • ½ cup honey 
  • 1/2 cup orange blossom water
  • 500g powdered sugar
IN a large bowl, incorpate the ingredients for the dough. The dough should be soft yet slightly firm.
Wrap in flim then set aside.

GRIND the almonds in a robo. You can leave the skins on if you like. Mix the almonds with the rest of the ingredients. Then form small logs from the filling. Set aside. It will measure about 20g per log.
Allow these to dry slightly on a baking sheet so they won't fall apart.

ROLL out the dough.Cut out circles with a cutter.
Place the filling logs in the center and cold the dough around the filling.

SHAPE into a crescent shape. Using a cup, the curve of the cookie cutter or even as I have done, a bottle cap is easy way to make all the cookies uniform. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat until you have used all of the dough.

BAKE  in a preheated oven at a low heat 150° until the cookies are baked through but not golden yet. It took me about 15 minutes.

WHILE the cookies are in the oven, prepare the syrup - by melting together the sugar, blossom water and water in a pan. It should thicken slightly.

ONCE the cookies are done and out of the oven. Cool them slightly enough that you can handle them without being burnt. Place the powdered sugar in a wide rimmed bowl. And in another bowl, place the cooled syrup. Dip each cookie in the syrup then in the powdered sugar. The powdered sugar won't completely adhere.

REPEAT this process 3 times until the cookie is completely covered. Allow the topping to hardened slightly before dipping in the syrup and powdered sugar again.


۞ Djouza uses sugar 1 cup for the filling. And she also uses sugar in her syrup equal measure water to sugar. I prefer to use honey since it is a natural unrefined sweetener. You can use what you prefer. You can surely use coconut sugar, rapadura, date sugar, Stevia or even real Miel de Agave here too.


Serve with tea or coffee at any occasion. Tcherek  is amoung the traditional cookies prepared in Algeria for festive occasions such as the two Eids, weddings, births and circumcisions. The other traditional treats are shown in the picture below ( Makrout,    and Baklava)

Storage
These cookies stay fresh and tasty for up to a week if stored properly in a cookie tin or container. After about a week, the sugar coating will come off. The cookie is still fine enough to eat, but may be unattractive to the eye.

Make Ahead
The dough and filling can be made days, even weeks ahead if wrapped well and frozen. Then thawed out on the countertop, shaped then baked. 
Alternatively, you could prepare the dough, shape, baked then freeze without coating in powdered sugar. Thaw out on the countertop the night before serving. Coat in the sugar before serving.

Variation
 And optionally you could use other nuts in the filling, such as walnuts or hazlenuts.


 Algerian, Eid al Fitr, Cookies and Bar Cookies, Easy

 

WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE AFTERNOON TREAT? 


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8 comments:

  1. this looks wonderfully delicious

    ReplyDelete
  2. J'aimerais bien avoir une avec mon thé! Tbark lah 3lik, bisous :)
    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you friends Kaouther Torview and Mamat Kamal for the kind comments. bises kisses

    ReplyDelete
  4. Salam alaikum sister,

    Glad to hear you had a good holiday, as I don't have Facebook I haven't seen pics but im sure they are beautiful MashaAllah
    Shukran for this this recipe and I like how this recipe uses honey in the fillinh and not grainy sugar because I tried that b4 and dh didnt approve lol
    I will pin to make closer to Ramadan inshaAllah
    JazakAllah khair

    ReplyDelete
  5. Salam alaikum sister,

    Glad to hear you had a good holiday, as I don't have Facebook I haven't seen pics but im sure they are beautiful MashaAllah
    Shukran for this this recipe and I like how this recipe uses honey in the fillinh and not grainy sugar because I tried that b4 and dh didnt approve lol
    I will pin to make closer to Ramadan inshaAllah
    JazakAllah khair

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  7. I love Algerian sweets not just because my husband is Algerian but because how delicious and tasty it is compare to any sweets and it's not common. This one is my favorite and I'll try to make this week. Thanks for sharing the recipe! 😊💙

    ReplyDelete

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