The May 2009, Challenge is brought to us by Khadidja Zehani from www.dessert-world.blogspot.com. Khadidja worked on two recipes to give us two choices; one for a wonderful savoury dish and one for outstanding dessert….
What can I say? First of all, Khadidja’s work is amazing. Her photographs are so beautiful, I had to try making them! And quite serendipitously my brother Michel and his better half, Avelina, decided to get married in a religious ceremony on Saturday, May 30th in San Fransisco. So, I am pleased to offer them these cookies “slilet al arouss”, or “the bride’s package” to Michel and Avelina with my very best wishes.
According to Khadidja, these cookies are originally from Algiers. They are composed of a filling made up of ground blanched almonds and are encased in a very thin and translucent dough flavored with orange blossom water. They are shaped like little purses and dipped in an orange blossom and lemon flavored syrup.
I started with the filling.
INGREDIENTS: This recipe will yield 40 cookies
For the filling:
1 can of almond paste or 300g of ground blanched almonds
180g of powdered sugar
1 large egg
Zest of a large lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the outer dough:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (in volume) or 2 oz of clarified butter
1/2 cup (4 oz) orange blossom water
For the decoration:
Bottles of different colors of food coloring
non-toxic gold dust in a small capsule
For the syrup:
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 cups of water
2 Tablespoons orange blossom water
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Lemon rind from one large lemon
- Mix the filling ingredients in a food processor until you obtain a cohesive dough. If it is still wet and sticky, add more powdered sugar.
- Using a cookie dough scooper, form small balls of dough. Place them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and let them rest in the fridge.
- In the food processor, mix the flour, salt and clarified butter first. Then add the orange blossom water gradually through the feeding tube until the dough turns into one big lump, adding more flour, bit by bit, if it is still sticky and wet. From the dough into a ball and wrap it in wax paper and let it rest for one hour at room temperature. If you are going to color the dough, divide it into smaller balls and apply the food coloring, a few drops at a time, and knead the dough manually until the color gets uniform throughout. Let it rest in small plastic bags.
- Make the syrup: mix the sugar, water, lemon rind in a saucepan on medium heat; let it simmer about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, then add the orange blossom water and the lemon juice. Cover the saucepan and let the syrup cool.
- To form the cookies: The easiest way is to use a manual pasta machine. Cut the dough in small and manageable lupms and run them through the machine decreasing the opening to make the strips thinner and thinner. When satisfied, you can place the strips on a cold surface on which you have sprinkled a bit of cornstarch and use a rolling pin to finish the job and make the dough paper thin and translucent. Use a large cookie cutter (5 inch) or a glass and cut rounds in the dough. Enclose the ball of filling and twist the dough on top to seal it.
- Let the formed cookies rest for one hour on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, without letting them brown.
- Plunge the hot cookies in the syrup for a few seconds and remove them with a slotted spoon. Place on gold-rimmed paper liners if you wish (it helps to keep the surface of your platter free of syrup).
- Present the cookies to the bride and groom and all the guests.
If you wish to apply gold dust, do so after the cookies are ready to be consumed. Mix a teaspoon of lemon extract and a 1/8 teaspoon of gold dust in a tiny bowl with either a brush, a small teaspoon or a popsicle stick. Apply by dabbing the gold liquid gingerly on each cookie.