Most Moroccan desserts seem to be flavored with orange blossom or rose water, and many also involve almonds or less frequently pistachios. Here is a platter of desserts, my last installment of recipes from a Moroccan dinner party that I hosted a couple of weeks ago.
The orange squares on the plate are actually a pistachio nougat covered with dried apricot puree – or apricot ‘leather’, we would have called it when I was growing up – kind of like a natural fruit roll-up. This is a sweet that I purchased at Neomonde (Lebanese) bakery and grocery store. Most of my friends thought they were too chewy – but that’s ok, I didn’t make them! :) The other two items were ones that I made for the meal.
Moroccan ‘snowball’ cookies were the only cookie I could find that didn’t involve nuts – which is important when you’re inviting someone with a nut allergy! The recipe is again from the website cookingwithalia. Basically it’s just a sugar/shortbread type cookie, dipped in jam flavored with orange blossom water and rolled in coconut. I used pear jam which I already had in my pantry, and rolled the cookies in sweetened coconut flakes. I looked for the unsweetened flakes, but they don’t seem to carry those in the grocery stores around here anymore. But the sweetened coconut worked just fine too!
The chocolate covered treats are Almond-Stuffed Dates. Large, good quality Turkish or Medjool dates are sliced open, pitted, and stuffed with an almond paste. Then they’re dipped into melted semisweet chocolate and refrigerated to harden. They can be garnished with sanding sugar as I did, or other glittering edible garnish like gold flake. Here’s the simple almond paste recipe:
8 oz. almonds
4 oz. sugar
1/2 tsp. orange blossom water
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. butter
Blend together the almonds and sugar until very pulverized. Then add orange blossom water, cinnamon and butter to make a sticky paste.
Finally, I made a watermelon salad to serve with dessert along with some green grapes and Moroccan mint tea. This salad wasn’t as well-received by my guests, and I have to admit that I didn’t like it as well as the other dessert options either. The salad is simple, watermelon chopped into pieces and mixed with rose water and fresh mint and lemon balm, plus just a little bit of honey. But even though I reduced the amount of rose water that the recipe called for, it was still very perfumed, which is not really what I look for in a dessert.
Overall though, I think my guests were pretty happy by the end of the meal, we had a nice time and great conversation! Even little Heidi enjoyed the phyllo dough from the chicken bastilla and tried some of the other foods :)