Tcherek a delicious little almond stuff cookie dating back to the time of the Dey Ramadhan Pacha of Algiers is a delectable treat for any special occasion table.
Tcherek, Kaab el Ghazal or Cornes de Gazalle, in English Horns of the Gazelle is a traditional Algerian cookie from the city of Algiers originating from the time of the el Bey Pacha Algiers. These little cookies are filled with sweet almonds and scented with orange blossom and shaped into horns or crescent which was the symbol of the Turkomen Empire. A shape and cookie that has been adopted into many cuisines worldwide including my own native Hungary (We call our version hókifli)
The basic dough for Tcherek can be used to make several different variations of Tcherek (Tcherek bel kawkaw - Tcherek with peanuts, Tcherek Masaker - recipe found HERE, Tcherek el Talia ( Icing covered horns), Tcherek m'assel (honeyed horns), but abut also Araïche (starfish), Kaakettes (crowns). All these varations are simply delightfully delicious dainty little cookies. Filled with pulverized almonds made into a paste by adding fragant maz'har (orange blossom water) and sugar. These cookies are a splender on any celebratory table.I will posting the recipes for the others in the future, so stay tuned in for them.
|Old pictures from 2007 just for fun|
๑۞๑ This special dessert comes the 17th el Bey Pacha tradition and it gave birth to famously famh ilar North African and Middle Eastern sweets like Qahwa Maâtra, Tamina, and Makrout. In traditional Algerian cooking, they used real honey and real butter for these desserts reserving them only for special occasions, but nowadays economics are made by using margarine and assila which is a sugar suryp. I prefer to stick to tradition and use clover, acacia or orange blossom honey for a more healthier version.
๑۞๑ If you are using whole raw almonds then grinding them yourself for this cake, then take your raw whole almonds still in their skins and put them in a pot with water. Bring the water up the boil,then turn off the heat. Allow the almonds to cool in the water, then strain the almonds in a colander. Once the almonds are cool to the touch, you can rub the skins right off easily. Now you just lay them out on a clean kitchen towel until they dry. This will take about a day or two, until they completely dry out. Or you could do it faster in an oven.
Traditionally the almonds were pounded in copper mortar and pestles, but now in these modern times such machines as robocoups (food processors) can aid us in easier kitchen work. Now when you are ready to grind the almonds, place the almonds in the machine's bowl, and run the machine for about 2 minutes or until you get a medium crumb, not too fine. It should not be too fine, (as if you were using a coffee grinder) the type referred to as almond flour that are used to make gluten free cakes and also for marzipan (almond paste).
๑۞๑ Traditionally Tcherek el arïane is naked, meaning without powdered sugar or glaze. But I don't like mine "naked" so I sprinkle alittle powdered sugar on top just for the colour contrast. Serve with mint tea or a hot cup of your favorite coffee like this Algiers style coffee!