Algerian Makrout with Dates
Makrout stuffed with date paste – North African diamond-shaped fried (you can bake them if you prefer) semolina cookies filled with date paste and soaked in honey. This sweet is popular to serve on special occasions such as Ramadan and Eid but can be enjoyed all year round too.
Orange blossom and rose water give these cookies a wonderful aroma and floral flavour alongside the honey and cinnamon flavored date paste.
The flattened diamond shape and decoration can be achieved with the use of a special mold or by hand/using a knife.
Yields: approximately 20
400 grams extra coarse semolina
80 ml unsalted butter, melted
60 ml orange blossom water
20 ml rose water
80ml water (more or less depending on absorption / quality of semolina)
200 grams pitted dates or date paste
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (cassia)
Oil (i used sunflower) for frying
Approximately 300 grams runny clear Honey with 1 tablespoons orange blossom water
In a small pan melt butter over medium heat, set aside. Measure semolina into a large bowl add the melted butter and mix (using right hand) until butter has coated every grain.
Meanwhile pit dates and place in basket of couscousier and steam uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove and place into medium sized bowl along with cinnamon a little orange blossom water and a tablespoon of butter, mash with a fork until smooth. Set aside to cool. If using date paste simply mix date paste with cinnamon and set aside.
Slowly add orange blossom, rose water and regular water in the same manner as you added the butter mix / rake with your hand/fingers DO NOT KNEAD but gently press together until you get a smooth dough adding more water if needed. Set aside for a short time – 10 minutes.
Shape cookies first by dividing date paste into 2 pieces, lightly oil your hands and work surface then roll into thin logs. Divide dough into 2 pieces and roll into logs. Taking 1 log of dough make a deep indentation that runs the length of the dough and place the date log inside. Carefully close the dough around the filling, then roll the dough back and forth a few times on your work surface to seal and make the dough smooth again. Gently flatten dough with your hands and divide by making 2 inch / 4 cm diagonal cuts. To decorate, score each makrout using a knife.
In a wide frying pan place oil until it’s about 2.5cm deep . Heat on a medium to high heat until hot 180C, (test a scrap piece of dough it should quickly bubble and come to the surface). A the same time place a small pot on the stove and heat honey until it’s hot then turn off the heat, add orange blossom water, stir and set aside. Fry cookies in batches (5 cookies per batch) until golden brown, turning once, they should only take a few minutes to cook so keep your eyes on the pan. Once cooked immediately transfer cookies to pot of honey, leave a few minutes to soak up the honey (whilst you fry another batch of makrout), turn over once to ensure honey penetrates the whole surface of the makrout. Transfer honey- soaked makrout using a slotted spoon to a strainer/sieve with a bowl underneath, leave to strain then transfer makrout again to a large baking sheet to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.