Moroccan peanut shortbread from the North

I finally got hold of the best recipe for these melt-in-the-mouth shortbreads from Northern Morocco where there is an abundance of peanuts growing around Larache and its surrounding.

Compared to other recipes of the same biscuit/cookie, the one I'm about to share with you involves roasting the flour before using it and it does make a difference.


Now you may related them to polvorons and rightly so, as they have the same texture only more friable and they're also wrapped in special paper. Note that polvorons are an Andalucian treat gone worldwide with the extension of Spanish culture to other countries and also that Andalucia has been a Muslim area for 800 years..Not to mention the Spanish colonisation of Northern and Sahara area of Morocco for decades. My point is that these cookies have a lot to say and showcase under their wrapping to be treated like just another sweet. It's past wrapped up in a silky paper that ones takes in a mouthful.

As much as they're easy to make, it's important to choose peanuts with a strong flavour such as the small ones, to handle them with care once baked and to really restrain from moving them until they're completely cool.

These special shortbreads do not contain eggs, so although they do have the shape of a Moroccan macaroon namely called ghrieba, they are still part of the biscuit/cookie category.

Expect a friable and melting texture once these peanut shortbread are in your mouth, not snappy or crunchy as a regular shortbread would usually be. It's pure indulgence!

Ingredients
Makes about 20
Prep: 25 min (incl. roasting peanuts), baking: about 15 min
Recipe adapted from here


  • 200g of blanched peanuts, unsalted
  • 150 g flour 
  • 80 g butter, melted
  • 30 -40 g of peanut oil (minimum)
  • 120 g icing sugar
  • 3 g of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 good pinch of gum arabic/meska, crushed (optional)

Finishing and wrapping
  • Icing sugar
  • Special wrapping paper for polvoron

Preparation

In a moderate oven (180 degrees C),  roast the flour for about 30- 40 min or until it changes to golden hazelnut colour. You need to stir it at least 3 times throughout the process. Set aside to cool and sift.

Roast the peanuts for 10 min at the same temperature. Set aside to cool then transfer them to a kitchen towel and rub them to remove as much of their skin as you could.

Transfer the peanuts into a food processor. Add the sugar, crushed meska, salt and cinnamon and blizz to a fine powder (not crunchy bits). Fold the mix into the flour and baking powder. You could sift all these dry ingredients together to homogenize.

Melt the butter (clarify it if you can) and mix it with 30 g of oil. Set aside to cool.

Pour over the dried ingredients and mix to combine. The dough should be moist and compact appearance. If it is too dry to bring together, add a tablespoon of oil or 2.

Preheat oven to 180/160 C degrees (conv/fan). Shape into 3cm balls. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing them about 5 cm. Slightly pat to level it but do not flatten it. I aim for anywhere between 1 to 1.5 cm thickness.

Bake between 15-20 min until it's golden brown.

Cool completely before dusting with a slight coating of icing sugar. You could also roll it in. Wrap with a special paper and keep in an airtight container for a couple of weeks (clarifying the butter helps in keeping them for a longer time).


How about trying the other version with raw almonds ? It certainly has a different texture but it's equally delightful. It also does not need wrapping as long as you generously coat it with icing sugar.



2 comments :

  1. These look wonderful. How serendipitous that this recipe should appear in my feed just before I set off to do my food shopping. I have had several of your recipes on my to-make list for some time but never quite got to them. However, I fully intend to make these this afternoon. I shall let you know how it goes!

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  2. For some reason, it didn't post my update last week. Made these as written (but forgot the baking powder - whoops) and they were absolutely delicious. I don't have a food processor so ground my roasted peanuts in a coffee grinder. If I'd ground them for a few seconds longer, I would have got peanut butter. That got me thinking that perhaps using peanut butter in place of the nuts would be a handy shortcut. So I have tried it today! I didn't have any peanut butter in, so I used (natural - no added oil/salt/sugar) cashew nut butter with a spoonful of tahini to make up the 200g weight. Then I just cut back the amount of peanut oil that I added (I used 20g) and they have come out really well. I would probably cut back the added peanut oil a little further (maybe 10g) to get the texture closer to the first batch I made, as they are still melt in the mouth but slightly more moist than the originals.

    A great recipe and infinitely adaptable, I would think. I am thinking ginger flavoured ones rolled in a mix of icing sugar and cocoa would be amazing. Still, the originals are beautiful and tasty as they are.

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