This traditional date-filled cookie with its crispy honey-soaked outside is a welcome guest at celebrations in Algeria. But this sweet pastry is also popular in the neighboring countries of Tunisia and Morocco. In this region many countries share the same cookie recipes. Makrout means diamond shaped in Arabic and that is the cookie’s usual shape. There are special Makrout stamps to make the classical decoration, but I just used the back of a knife to score the pattern. Like many cookies in this region, the dough is made with semolina. I really like the nice crunch the dough gets from it. Both the dough and the honey dip use orange blossom water. This is made by distilling water with the blossoms of the bitter orange and is a common ingredient in pastries from this region. Sometimes this cookie’s dough is even made just with this fragrant water and no unscented water is added. That is a bit to flowery for my taste. Because the biscuit is dipped in honey after the baking, there is no sugar in the dough itself. You can bake the cookies in the oven or deep fry them. I baked mine for a less greasy result, but if you like a really crunchy cookie, deep frying is your way to go. This sticky cookie tastes really good with a glass of traditional mint tea or some strong coffee. Nice? try my fruity variation with apricot and orange.
Makrout cookie from Algeria
For 20-25 cookies
225 grams (1⅓ cups) semolina (fine or coarse for a more crunchy cookie)
45 grams (⅓ cups) flour
90 grams (⅛ stick) melted butter
6 tablespoons orange blossom water
90 ml (5 tbsp) lukewarm water
240 ml (1 cup) honey
250 grams (1½ cups) pitted dates
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
20 grams (1½tbsp) butter
60 grams (4 tbsp) toasted sesame seeds
Mix the semolina with the flour, a pinch of salt and the melted butter.
Mix the butter into the semolina and flour to form a crumbly mixture and leave to rest covered for about 1 hour.
Mix the dates with the cinnamon, the butter and the sesame seeds.
Blend the mixture into a paste in a food processor.
Form into 2 rolls of about 2 cm thick.
Mix 4 tablespoons orange blossom with the semolina mixture. Add enough water to form a smooth pliable dough
Divide the dough in half and form two rods that are just as long as the date rolls.
Make an indentation all along the center of the dough roll and place the date rolls in the middle.
Knead and pinch the dough to cover the date filling. Roll back and forth a few times to seal the dough and make a nice roll.
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Flatten the rolls slightly and cut diagonally into diamonds. Using the back of a knife score a pattern in the dough. Bake in the middle of the oven for 12-15 min. until light brown.
Meanwhile, heat the honey with the rest of the orange blossom water and leave to boil ± 1 minute. Take the cookies from the oven and dip them in the hot honey while they are still warm. Leave to cool on a wire rack over a baking tray to catch the drips
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