Sunday, 24 June 2012

A Moroccan dessert

The theme for our dinner party club this month was Moroccan.  I duly perused my recipe books and the interweb for inspiration – the hosts were promising a tagine, which left a starter, accompaniments or dessert to choose.  After considerable deliberation I made my decision and sent my email:

We will provide Khobz dyal Zraa (bread) and couscous/veges to support the tagine. Was tempted by "brides’ fingers" for dessert, but the bread won!

Only to discover that we’d been beaten to the accompaniments.  So I had to revert to “brides’ fingers”.  I turned to Claudia Roden (Arabesque) for the recipe, and the recipe below is from her, with minor adaptations.  These are like a version of baklava in small packages – only I’d never used filo and definitely had no orange blossom water in my possession.  A trip to Moore Wilson's – Wellington’s foodie store that stocks genuine orange blossom water, along with almost everything else one might need – was scheduled.

Briwat Bi Loz (Brides’ Fingers)
Makes 32

1 cup runny honey – I used a mild flavoured honey
100 ml water
75 g unsalted butter
1 ½ cups nuts – almonds or pistachios
½ cup castor sugar
2 tablespoons orange blossom water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Filo pastry – I used 8 sheets of 40cm x 30cm filo, each sheet cut into four 10cm x 30cm strips.

First, get your filo ready according to the packet instructions – if fresh, it will need around 2 hours at room temperature before using.

Prepare the honey syrup by combining the honey and water and bringing to the boil.  Simmer for 1 minute.  Melt the butter.  Turn the oven on to 150 C.

I wanted to try both pistachio and almond versions, so I split the recipe in two – this was very easy.  Whizz the nuts in the food processor until they are a mixed consistency.  I wanted a noticeable texture in the finished product, so I didn’t whizz to a uniform powder.

Mix together the nuts, castor sugar, cinnamon and orange blossom water.  It should be a crumbly mixture that almost clumps together.

Cut the filo strips into rectangles that are 10cm wide by 30cm long, and stack into one pile.  Working fairly quickly, brush the top filo strip with melted butter, place a tablespoon of the nut mixture about 2-3cm above the end closest to you. 
Fold the bottom end of the filo over the nuts, and fold the long edges in by about 1cm, sealing the nuts in filo, then roll the package up the length of the filo. 
Place on a baking tray, seam down and cover with a damp tea towel while you do the rest.

It can be a bit fiddly to seal the nuts in, but the filo is fairly forgiving – the melted butter ensures that everything sticks together.  You could split the pile of filo in two and keep one pile under a damp tea towel to ensure that it doesn’t dry out – by the last 10 of my packages the edges of the filo had started to dry out and were prone to tearing as I separated them.

Once all the nut mixture has been used up, brush a little melted butter over the top of all the packages and pop into the oven at 150 C for 30 minutes.  They should be a pale golden colour when they are cooked – and the nut mixture will have caramelised into a delicious, aromatic and slightly chewy consistency.

Cool for 5 minutes, then dip each package in the syrup and place onto a serving platter.
Reheat in a warm oven for 10 minutes before serving, with more honey syrup poured over. 

We served accompanied with whipped cream and Clevedon Valley Buffalo yoghurt, both with Heilala Vanilla Paste added.  The yoghurt mix won the popular vote.  This is definitely a Dinner Party Club recipe that I will be making again – although I may make them in a bigger size to speed up the preparation a bit.
The Pegasus Bay Aria wine was a perfect match.

1 comment:

emma and russ said...

I ate more bride's fingers than I was entitled to. My money was on the almond, though a quick poll found us evenly divided. I'd like to take the opportunity to compliment Mrs Foodthattastesgreat on her blog. The photographs are very clear and show just what you want to know when you're working through the receipe eg the texture of the nut mixture above, and more detailed comment that receipes usually contain eg handling filo. The backgroung colour and font make it a pleasure to read
The she-urbangardener