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Makrout Recipe with Dates and Honey

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Makrout with Date Filling and Honey

Photo © Christine Benlafquih

Makrout are semolina cakes or cookies which came to Morocco via Tunisia and Algeria. Although date paste filled makrout are sometimes baked, the traditional method of frying and then dipping in honey yields a memorable blend of flavors and textures. Serve them during Ramadan, for Eid or other special occasions. If you like, a little ground almonds or ground sesame seeds can be added to the date filling.

Don't be intimidated by the steps below; the cookies are easier to make than you might think. The photo tutorial How to Make Makrout will be useful if you've never seen how the cookies are shaped or cooked.

Also try Makrout with Almonds and Honey.

Prep Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Minimum resting times: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes

Yield: 28 to 30 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (350g) fine or medium semolina
  • 1/4 cup (35g) flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup (160g) melted butter or vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup orange flower water
  • ----------------------------------------
  • 10 oz. (300 g) dates
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon orange flower water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, or more to taste
  • dash nutmeg (optional)
  • -----------------------------------------
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 cups (340g) honey
  • 1 tablespoon orange flower water

Preparation:

1. Oil the semolina. Blend the semolina, flour and salt. Add the melted butter (or oil) and use your hands to toss and massage the mixture for several minutes to ensure that each grain of semolina is individually coated with the butter. If time allows, cover and set aside for an hour or longer before proceeding.

2. Make the dough. Again using your hands, gradually work the orange flower water into the semolina mixture. Don't knead, but do rake the semolina and mix/squeeze with your fingers to incorporate the liquid until a moist ball of dough forms and holds shape. (If necessary, you can add a little more water, a few teaspoons at a time, to achieve this.) Cover, and set the dough aside to rest for at least an hour while you make the date paste in the next step.

3. Make the date paste. Remove the pits from the dates, and place the dates in a steamer basket or metal colander which has been set over a pot of simmering water. Steam the dates, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer the dates to a food processor, add the butter, orange flower water and cinnamon, and process until a smooth paste forms. Set the paste aside to cool.

4. Shape the cookies. When the date paste has cooled and firmed a bit, wet or oil your hands. Divide the paste into four portions, and shape each portion into a thin log about the diameter of your finger.

Divide the dough into four portions. Take one, and gently shape it into a log the same length as a log of date paste. Make a deep indentation that runs the length of the dough and insert the date filling. Gently pinch the dough around the filling to enclose it (pinch off and discard any excess dough on the ends), then roll the dough back and forth a few times on your work surface to seal and smooth it.

Special presses/molds are available for flattening decorating the top of makrout dough, but you can achieve an equally nice look by gently pressing the length of the roll with your fingers or palm to slightly flatten it, and then pressing or scoring the top of the dough with the dull side of a knife to make a pattern or decorative lines.

Slice the log with diagonal cuts into 1" wide pieces. Transfer the cookies to a baking sheet or tray, and repeat the process with the remaining date paste and dough. Leave the cookies to rest, uncovered, for 30 minutes or longer before cooking.

5. Cook the makrout. You will need a deep skillet or wide pot for frying, a smaller pot for honey, and a strainer set over a bowl. Place 1" of vegetable oil in your pot over medium heat. At the same time, heat 2 cups of honey in a smaller pot until very hot but not boiling. Add a tablespoon of orange flower water and remove from the heat.

When the oil is hot (a test piece of scrap dough should simmer rapidly when placed in the oil), fry the cookies in batches until golden. Immediately transfer the fried cookies to the hot honey and allow the cookies to soak for a few minutes while the next batch cooks. Transfer the honey-drenched cookies to a strainer, and after a few minutes to a tray to finish to cooling.

Allow the makrout to cool for several hours before storing in an airtight container. Save your leftover honey to use again, or to sweeten beghrir, msemen or other Moroccan treats.

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