I've never been to Morocco, but it's somewhere I've always wanted to go. My desire to experience Morocco first-hand has increased ever since I bought myself a Moroccan cook book and started cooking Moroccan dishes.
Food is often a reflection of the people who make it and the place it's made. Even though I have no direct knowledge of the people or the place, these cookies seem to me to reflect the images of Morocco that I exist in my imagination.
I can imagine these sand-coloured cookies being baked by the sun in that desert land. The cookies are crunchy and dry. I imagine them sitting alongside the crumbling spine of the Atlas Mountains. They're not indulgent - there is no serving of buttered guilt or chocolate-chip shame here. But they're certainly not dreary and lifeless, either. The delicious flavour of roasted sesame seeds seems to me to be quintessentially Moroccan. And the sweet scent of orange blossom water is colorful and exotic.
Until I travel there - and I undoubtedly will - I'm happy with the little pieces of Morocco that tumble out of my oven.
Moroccan Sesame Cookie Recipe
1.5 cups of white sesame seeds, plus about 1/4 of a cup extra
1 cup of unbleached organic flour
3/4 cup of sugar
1.5 tsp of baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbs of orange blossom water
1tps of orange zest
- Set the oven temperature at 180C.
- Roast the sesame seeds in a pan over a medium heat until lightly browned. Set aside to cool slightly. Once cooled, place the seeds into a blender and blend until a powder is formed.
- Heat the flour in the same pan over a medium heat stirring constantly until the flour browns just slightly. Make sure you don't burn the flour though. Place it into the blender with the ground sesame seeds. Add the sugar, orange zest and baking powder to the blender and blend mixture thoroughly.
- Place the sesame mixture in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs and orange blossom water. Stir mixture with a wooden spoon and then and then knead it and roll into a ball.
- Have the extra sesame seeds ready on a plate. Line a baking tray with baking paper and grease it with butter.
- Break off walnut-sized pieces of the dough and roll it into balls. Press the balls into the sesame seeds and flatten slightly. Place the cookies on the baking tray with the sesame seeds facing up. Allow for about 5 cm between each cookie and bake for about 15 minutes. Leave the cookies on the tray for 5 minutes and then move to a cooling rack.