MOVE OVER MINCE PIES, TRY NARGISSE BENKABBOU’S MOROCCAN PASTRIES INSTEAD
1 Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas Mark 4.
2 To make the almond paste to fill the mhencha,
transfer the almonds and sugar into a nut
grinder or a food processor and blend until you
have a moist paste (about 5 minutes). Add in the
orange blossom water and butter and blend for
a few seconds. Remove the paste and divide it
into 8 equal parts. Shape each part into long
tubes (approximately 30cm/12in) and cover.
3 Place a filo pastry sheet on a work surface
and brush it with melted butter (keep the other
sheets covered with a cloth to avoid drying out).
Take an almond paste tube, place it on the long
side of the sheet and loosely roll up the sheet.
Don’t overtighten the pastry when rolling it
because it will break during the baking process.
Cover the rolled sheet with more melted butter
and roll it up to form a snug coil. Place the
mhencha onto a lined baking sheet and repeat
until you’ve used all the almond paste and filo
sheets. Transfer to the warm oven until they are
baked and lightly golden (about 15 minutes).
4 Meanwhile, heat the honey in a small saucepan
over a medium heat. Once it’s foamy, reduce the
heat. When the pastries are baked, immediately
transfer in batches to the simmering honey and
soak for two minutes.
5 Remove to a flat dish to cool before serving.
Decorate with chopped peanuts and/or freezedried berries as desired.