Moroccan Ghrouibas or ghriebas with Almonds- Ghrieba del 'aakda or mlewza

“Ghrouiba bellouz” or ghrieba del 'aakda is a traditional chewy macaroon in many houses especially the ones from Fez and Tetuan. There is not a wedding or a festive event where trays of these irresistible delicacies are made or bought from specialized bakers (home bakers or pastry shops)

Depending on who is going to be served these, I make them anywhere from a small bouchée for big buffets or regular size for traditional Moroccan events, Sometimes I make them American cookie style, flatter and larger. We are gifting most of them to some friends today.


The orange peel is a totally optional element for the version with icing but a regular addition to the version coated with almond flakes.

Ingredients
For more than 50 pieces
Prep : 20 min/ Baking : 18 min by batch
Find my recipe here with a version with US measurements
  • 500g almonds blanched, peeled and ground to paste (do not use almond powder)
  • 250 g powdered sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 yolk
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp of jam (apricot is preferred)
  • 1 tbsp of butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder.
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • 1 slice of candied orange peel, finely chopped (optional, but the flat ghrouibas usually has it)
  • A good pinch of Mastic gum or Meska
  • Essence of Almond (3 to 4 drops if you suspect that the almonds do not have a strong taste)

Finishing and decoration for the version with flaked almonds
  • 300 g of almond flakes
  • 2 egg whites
Finishing and decoration with icing
  • 300 g icing sugar

Method

Make-ahead task

Blanch the almonds for 2 minutes in boiling water. Drain and instantly start peeling the skin. Wash about 3 times and drain. Spread them in one layer over a kitchen towel and rub to dry them further.

My family usually leaves the trays in a balcony or the garden in sunny days but I place the nuts in a very hot oven which I knock off before they go in. They stay a good 10 minutes and they're ready.

Next, use a good food processor to turn these almond to a paste. Add 2/3 of the caster sugar to help getting a good paste.

The fact of having a paste helps with the chewiness of the ghriebas, but if you are unlucky with the food processor, double the quantity for apricot jam.

Making ghrieba

Mix mastic gum with 1 teaspoon of caster sugar and crush it with the bottom of a glass or use a pestle and mortar to do the job. It will take you 5 seconds.

Preheat the oven at 170 degrees C and cover 2 baking sheets with baking paper.

Lightly beat the eggs with the remaining of the sugar quantity and the pinch of salt. Break in the almond paste. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix with hands or with a food processor until the mixture looks lump-free. You don't need to overwork it especially if all ingredients are at room temperature.

Form small balls of approx 2 to 3 cm.

For a version with icing sugar

Prepare a deep plate or bowl with sifted icing sugar.

Drop the balls in the icing sugar so they coat from one side and all around. They need to pick as much icing sugar as possible as this plays a major role in the highly sought crackling.

For a version with flaked almonds

Prepare 1 bowl or deep plate with egg whites and spread a thick layer of almond flakes in a deep plate.

Roll the balls in egg white. Use a fork to fish them out and wait for the excess egg white to drip, use a finger to sweep it. Roll in flaked almonds, flatten to 15 mm and place in the baking tray.

You can shape them like that and finish them with flaky almonds
Bake ghriebas

Place the ghriebas on the baking sheets, leaving about 5 to 6 cm gap between each one. Place your thumb right in the middle from the top and slightly apply a pressure. This helps with the final look. 

If you have a convection oven, place the tray in the top tier for 5 minutes then place it in the middle for another 5 minutes. Turn the baking tray around to ensure even baking and bake for a few more minutes until the ghriebas look nicely crackled and golden from the sides. The icing sugar will look set and not damp, a sign the ghrieba is ready.

If you are using a traditional oven, bake on position “grill” until it crackles then bake from the bottom. I usually put the 2 positions ON at the same time. This way it bakes in 18 minutes.




Notes:


  • Mastic gum or meska is the secret ingredient that gives this delicate taste. The spoon of jam reinforces the chewy texture. Although some also call it gum arabic but I believe there is a difference. The one used in our Moroccan baking usually comes from Greece. Gum arabic is from a species of Acacia, while mastic gum is in the Pistacia family and is related to frankincense.


  • Always keep lemon rinds with the chewy ghriebas in an airtight container as they help them keep their texture and the lemon touch longer.

Flat version "cookie-like"

2 comments :

  1. ghribas are of spanish origin "montecaos"

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi there anonymous,

    I like montecaos and it is true that a version of them more like ghrouiba behla in Morocco.

    For the concept of ghrouiba or ghraibeh, I don't think so..The Egyptians made it before, based on flour only...Besides, Let's not forget that there was an 800 years of Arabs in Spain.

    ReplyDelete

I'd love to hear from you!

Copyright © Fleur d'oranger, Masala & Co... Designed by OddThemes