Entering a magic place does not require more than a wish and few hours with plane. Heading south, where the sun forever shines is Morocco. Nested among the ocean, the Atlas mountains and the Sahara desert, even its landscape has a story to tell. And what a story could be found in Morocco! Casablanca proudly presents its Art Deco French Colonial architecture, traces of fading grandeur still on display. The small streets of Sale hold the echoes in their breath of the ancient slave market and endless cries in desperation. Rabat keeps the memory of the berber tribal kings, who 1000 years ago gave Morocco their rich cultural heritage and voices. Like an Aladdin cave, the old medina in Fez holds thousands colourful treasures, all made by hand, by tireless local artisans. The souks in Marrakesh have no end, full of story-tellers and snake charmers, foods and spices.
A land where people always smile. A land where family is loved and treasured beyond measure. A land where food is a real joy and delight. Nothing you might taste in Morocco will leave you indifferent. Every bite, soaked in sunshine, carries emotions. From the pancakes, served with eucalyptus honey, the apricot almond tagine, to the typical cinnamon scented chicken pastilla. But first, every meal must start with a welcome tray of mint tea and spice flavoured biscuits.
I have been dreaming of making Moroccan cookies for a while. Imagining the joy with which endless generations of women are papering them every day, seated under the shade in colourful riads, makes me think it might be easy. And easy, it most certainly is. Just a mixture of several special ingredients and a few minutes in the oven. Almonds, star anise, cardamom and orange blossom water – in a perfect crisp and melting cookie. My husband tries one, and then another one, and then a few more, and before I notice the golden pile of delicious perfection start to disappear. I pour a fresh mint tea in a colourful blue glass with inlaid gold motives, take a bite and dream away.
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon ground anise seed
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon orange blossom water
- two handful of almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 175°C.
2. Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter in a large bowl to blend. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Add the ground anise, ground cardamom and orange blossom water and mix well. Finally, add the almonds and mix.
3. Form the dough into a wide log. Transfer the log to the prepared baking sheet. Bake until light golden, about 30 minutes. Cool 30 minutes.
4. Place the log on the cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into thick slices. Arrange the cookies cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake the cookies until pale golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a rack and cool completely.