These Moroccan cookies are named after the traditional pointy-toed Moroccan slippers – balghas in Arabic or babouches in French. Homemade peanut paste is rolled into logs, enclosed in pastry, and then cut on the diagonal to make the slipper shape. How to Make Babouches aux Cacahuètes shows photos of the procedure.
Some versions of these cookies use an egg pastry flavored with orange flower water and involve carefully shaping filled dough into a slipper shape. This sliced cookie version is easier to make and what I see most often in the bakeries.
Yields enough cookies to fill a one-liter container.
Prep Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
- ----- For the Pastry -----
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups (275 g) flour
- ----- For the Peanut Paste -----
- 3 cups (500g) raw shelled peanuts
- 3/4 cup (100 g) powdered sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
See the photo tutorial How to Make Babouches aux Cacahuètes.
Make the Pastry Dough
Combine the milk and vinegar in a mixing bowl, and leave the mixture for at least five minutes to curdle and thicken. Stir in the butter, salt and flour, and knead to form a smooth dough. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Make the Peanut Paste
Preheat an oven to 350° F (180° C). Spread the raw shelled peanuts on a baking sheet and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the peanuts are light golden brown. (You can check the peanuts by peeling one or two.) Remove the peanuts from the oven, and allow them to cool on the baking sheet.
Remove the skins from the peanuts, place them in a food processor, and process on high speed until the peanuts are ground to a glistening paste. You may need to shake the machine or tip it to keep the peanuts in contact with the blade until they form the paste.
Add the salt and powdered sugar, and process briefly to blend. Or, you can transfer the peanut paste to a bowl, and knead the sugar in with your hands.
Shape the Cookies
Take a small handful of the sweetened peanut paste. Squeeze and knead it in your hands for a minute to moisten and soften it, just as you might work with a ball of modeling clay. Roll the softened ball of peanut paste back and forth on your work surface to shape it into a log about the thickness of a finger. Repeat with the remaining peanut paste.
Divide the chilled dough into four pieces. Roll out a piece of dough on a lightly floured surface until it's quite thin – about the thickness of a thin piece of cardboard.
Place a log of peanut paste near the edge of the dough, and fold the dough over the paste to enclose it. (You can trim the dough to match the width of the log, or you can add paste to the length of the log to fit the dough.)
Cut the dough to separate the log from the rolled out pastry. Pinch the edge of the dough to the log to seal the edge, and then roll the pinched edge back and forth on your surface a few times to smooth the area.
Use a sharp knife to cut the log into thin diagonal slices between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick (a little less than .5 cm). Transfer the slices to on a lightly greased baking sheet – they can be placed fairly close together since there will be little expansion.
Bake the Cookies
Preheat an oven to 375° F (190° C). Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for about 15 minutes, or until the pastry is lightly colored. You can allow the pastry to reach a golden brown color for a crispier cookie, but watch the cookies carefully since they'll darken quickly at the end.
Allow the cookies to cool completely on the pan before storing in an airtight container.