Back during my last year of university, I lived in an apartment by myself near the only Moroccan restaurant in town. I frequented the restaurant quite a bit, as the food was to die for. And since I was at the restaurant a fair amount, the chef and I became really good friends. I would often head from classes straight to the restaurant where he would show me how to make various Moroccan dishes including incredible vegetarian tagine and savoury couscous with olives. The curried lentil soup was incredible. How I miss it! It was incredible on a cold day with a piece of rye bread. Hamid taught me how to make preserved lemons. And how to make briwats which is a Moroccan appetizer of cream cheese and herbs wrapped in phyllo and deep fried. Ah-ma-zing! We’d sit and drink Moroccan tea (chinese gun powder tea brewed with fresh mint leaves and sugar) and discuss topics in French. I really enjoyed chatting about food with him. He was extremely knowledgeable and passionate. I also learned a lot about Moroccan culture in general.
Around Christmas that year, he made me a basket of Moroccan pastries as a gift. They were incredible! Flaky pastries were filled with toasted almonds and pistachios, drenched in honey, topped with sesame seeds and some filled with a delicious pastry cream. I fell in love with Moroccan desserts! Sadly, my friend would not give me any of his actual recipes. I guess the restaurant had to keep their best customer coming around to stay in business! *hah*
My friend ended up moving to Montreal to work at another restaurant a few years back. A while after he left, I stumbled upon this recipe for a honey drenched phyllo coil and decided to try and make it for nostalgia sake. And I have to say, I was pretty impressed with how it turned out. It tasted very similar to one of my favourite desserts my chef friend used to make me.
This past weekend, I decided to pull out my recipe for the honey phyllo coil and make it for my family as a pretty little treat for after sunday dinner. I think it went over really well. You only need a small piece, as it’s very rich and sweet. But it’s a delicious treat to have with tea/coffee after dinner. Enjoy!
- 3 cups of blanched almonds
- 2/3 cup of granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup of butter; softened
- 2 tablespoons of orange flower water (optional)
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 5 to 6 sheets of phyllo pastry
- 1/4 cup of butter; melted
- 1/2 cup of liquid honey
- 2 tablespoons of sliced almonds
1. Pre-heat oven to 400’F. Grease side and bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan and set aside.
2. Make Almond Paste: in a food processor, chop almonds with sugar until powdered. Add the butter, orange flower water if using and cinnamon. Pulse into little balls form. Set aside.
3. Place 1 phyllo sheet on a work surface. Brush lightly with the butter. Note: Make sure to keep the rest of the phyllo covered with a damp tea towel so it does not dry out.
4. Divide the almond paste into 5 pieces. Roll each into 16 inch long (40 cm) logs. Place one log along the long edge of the buttered sheet of phyllo; leaving 1/2 inch border at ends. Roll firmly and pinch ends together. Brush lightly with butter.
5. Roll, seam down, around the edge of the prepared pan. Repeat with 4 more rolls. Keep spiralling the rolls until the bottom is well covered.
6. Bake in the centre of the oven at 400’F until crispy and golden brown (about 10 to 12 minutes). Drizzle with honey right after you take the coil out of the oven. Garnish with almond slivers. Serve & enjoy!
Source: Canadian Living Magazine – October 2004