I tasted so many cookies when I was traveling in Morocco, but I always liked the surprise of the filled cookies best. You never know what you are going to bite in to. Maybe my version of the classic khab el ghazal cookie gives away its secret to easily because the filling peeps out for everybody to see. The dough of this Khab el Ghazal cookie with dates, chocolate is made with saffron, one of the most expensive spices in the world. The strands are the stigma’s of the saffron crocus that can only be picked by hand. You would never expect so much flavor and scent from a few scraggy orange strands. So be careful not to use too much: the flavor becomes too overpowering. I bought a few jars of saffron in the centre of the saffron growing area in Taliouline at a cooperation shop during my trip. The serious looking seller gave me a quick lesson in saffron buying. The strands should be red with on one side a thinner yellow end and on the other a wider trumpet shape. When you rub saffron between your fingers they should stain yellow and smell strongly of saffron. It should never smell musty. It was spring, so unfortunately there were no purple crocus fields for us to see. Anyway, it is always good to have a reason to return to Morocco.
Khab el Ghazal cookie with dates, chocolate and saffron
Voor about 30 cookies
For the date filling
200 grams of stoned dates
50 grams of soft unsalted butter
50 grams of dark chocolate, grated
for the dough
6 strands of saffron
50 milliliter warm water
250 grams of flour
60 grams of soft unsalted butter
pinch of salt
40 grams of icing sugar
Process the dates, with the butter and the chocolate into a smooth paste in a food processor. Form into a ball and wrap in cling film. Leave to rest in the refrigerator for about 30. min.
Soak the saffron in the warm water for 10 min. Mix all the ingredients for the dough and knead into a soft ball. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest for about 30 min. in the refrigerator..
Divide the filling into pieces of 7 grams and form the into 9 cm long rolls.
Roll out the dough into a very thin sheet and cut out rectangels of 5 x 10 cm. Place the filling in the middle of the dough. 1 side of the roll should almost touch one of the short sides of the dough. Fold the long sides of the dough up, but make sure there is still some filling showing. Bend both short sides to make a circle. Make the filling on both sides touch each other and gently pinch the dough around the filling. You now have a fat, round cookie. Place your index finger in the middle of the circle and your thumb on the outside an softly press the dough to make the circle thinner.
Preheat the oven to 170 °C (350 °C) and bake the cookies for about 15 mins. in the middle of the oven. They should not colour much.
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