Moroccan desserts mainly consist of cakes, pastries, and cookies. The nutty flavor of almonds and rich aroma of orange blossom water and cinnamon pervade in them. While most of these sweet dishes are authentic in taste and origin, some are influenced by French, Arabic, and Jewish cuisine. In addition, you’ll find other variations of the desserts like Ghoriba, Kaab el gazal in many North African and Middle Eastern countries. Whether you savor them after a meal or as a snack, these Moroccan delights are fulfilling and even nutritious.
M’hanncha is a delicious traditional dessert prepared from warqa, a thin Moroccan pastry. An almond paste goes into it made mainly with almond, sugar, and butter. In Arabic, “M’hanncha” means snake and hence earns the name as it acquires a coiled shape before going to the oven. After being topped with sugar or honey, it is served as a whole on religious occasions or social gatherings. Guests pull apart the dessert with their hands or cut it into pieces starting from the tail section to enjoy it.
Garnishing it with sliced almonds gives a crunchy texture to the otherwise soft pastry. The filling inside has a dominating nutty flavor and the additional aroma of orange blossom water and cinnamon.
These round-shaped cookies with flat surfaces are a common find in every Moroccan household. Its main ingredients include flour, baking powder, butter, sugar, and salt. Toasted sesame seeds or almonds also go into the mixture for the additional nutty flavor. The cracks on the surface are typical of this traditional dessert. While most Ghoribas have a crumbly texture, melting into your mouth at an instant, there are some chewy versions as well. The occasional crunch and flavor of the nuts or sesame make it more tempting. Serve them with hot coffee or tea as evening snacks.
This easy-to-make cake is a simple yet flavorful one. With freshly squeezed orange juice and orange zest going into the preparation, it acquires a citrusy aroma and flavor. Besides these, other variations like the lemon and vanilla ones also exist. Baked in a round tube pan or a loaf pan, it attains a lovely golden color. This orange-flavored moist cake is mainly made during the winter season when oranges are fresh and ripe.
Also known by the names of sfouf or zmita, sellou is a well-known Moroccan sweet. Oven-browned flour, unhulled sesame seeds, fried almonds, cinnamon, anise, honey, or sugar go into its preparation, giving it a rich and nutty flavor. All these ingredients are blended and moistened with clarified butter and cooled instead of baking. Also, due to its high nutritional content, it is traditionally served during Ramadan or after childbirth to restore energy and stay healthy.
These famous twice-baked cookies are similar to the Italian biscottis, both in texture and appearance. Besides their sweetness, they provide ample nutrition because of the ingredients used in the preparation from almonds to anise seeds, sesame seeds to raisins. Adding orange blossom water enhances its aroma. Also available in savory versions, they are a delight when paired with a hot cup of tea.
These are tasty deep-fried doughnuts, commonly eaten in the morning or late afternoon, with tea or coffee as accompaniments. Prepared from the sticky and unsweetened dough, they have a golden, crispy outer layer and a soft, chewy interior. Commonly sold by street vendors, they’re served hot and eaten either plain or with powdered sugar or honey. They have even found a special place in Jewish cuisine, consumed during the auspicious festival of Hanukkah. The oil used for frying sfenj alludes to the sacred Jewish oil that lit in Jerusalem for longer than the estimated time.
Kaab el ghazal, though translated as gazelle ankles, are more widespread as gazelle horns due to their crescent shapes. They’re a thin pastry with a filling of almond paste flavored and aromatized in cinnamon and orange blossom water. Once baked, it gets a lovely aroma and light golden appearance. These flavorful delicacies are a big hit during wedding celebrations or other special occasions.
This special Moroccan platter is enjoyed particularly in festivals and celebrations. Steamed and sweetened couscous or vermicelli seasoned with raisins, butter, and sugar is all that the dish is about. Another well-known sweet and savory version, Seffa Medfouna, includes meat like chicken, beef, or lamb buried inside the towered vermicelli or couscous. Garnished with crushed almonds and cinnamon powder, it is enjoyable with warm or cold milk.
These spongy and delicate Moroccan pancakes are made out of a batter of semolina and yeast. The presence of yeast gives it a fluffy texture, resulting in holes on the surface. Topped with honey and butter or fruit jams, they are enjoyable at room temperature. People commonly eat it as a breakfast or serve it as an Iftar snack during Ramadan.
These Moroccan cookies, also known as mkharka, are exceptional both in taste and appearance. Given the shape of a flower, they are fried until golden brown and coated in honey-flavored orange blossom water. Sprinkled with sesame seeds in the end, they have a crunchy yet chewy texture. Though it’s pretty laborious and time-consuming to prepare, the taste is worth it. It is best paired with a traditional Moroccan soup Harira, enjoyed during special occasions like Ramadan.
Though many variations of Baklava exist all over North Africa and the Middle East, the Moroccan ones are a must-try. Orange blossom water flavored almond filling is compressed between the layers of handmade thin pastry dough. Once cut into cubes, it is decorated with almonds, one on each piece, before going into the oven. After drizzling it with flavored syrup, it is enjoyed the next day after leaving it overnight for the syrup to soak in the baklavas.
Moroccan fruit salad consists of different fresh fruits, including strawberries, apples, oranges, and bananas. Mixed with sugar and yogurt or even orange blossom water, it adds a sweet and tangy taste. After topping it with toasted nuts, one can relish this sweet yet healthy delicacy after a wholesome meal.
These churro-shaped cookie delights have both their ends dipped in melted dark chocolate. The main ingredients are pastry flour, cornflour, vanilla or lemon zest, eggs, and sugar. Commonly enjoyed during special occasions, they are crunchy and made more delicious with the chocolaty touch.
Moroccan cinnamon cookies require only a handful of ingredients like pastry flour, almond flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and oil. After mixing everything into a dough, it is given a round shape with a flattened top. Once baked, sprinkle powdered cinnamon for garnishing and enjoy while sipping a cup of hot coffee or tea. The crumbly texture, along with the cinnamon flavors, would indeed compel you to ask for more.
This Moroccan apple dessert is a simple one made with peeled and sliced tart apples, lemons, and sugar. Served at room temperature, they make for a perfect appetizer. It is sweet and tangy in taste with a pervading flavor of orange blossom water and cinnamon.
These are some of the delightful Moroccan desserts enjoyed by many all over the world. Best paired with tea or coffee, they are tasty and energy-packed food at the same. Apart from these, there are many more lip-smacking sweets like maamoul, briouat, etc.
Vegan Moroccan Dessert: Moroccan cinnamon cookies, Ghoriba
Authentic Moroccan Dessert: M’hancha, Chebakia, Meskouta
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