Moroccan ghrieba (macaroon) with almond and peanuts

I was looking for an old set of family recipes I gathered when I was still living in Morocco and I stumbled upon this irresistible and chewy ghrieba/ghrouiba.

Ghrieba with almond and peanuts is very easy to make and I won't even ask you to blanch the nuts yourself as long as you buy them whole and skinned. But if you want to do it all by yourself, it's rewarding from a taste level and you know that for sure.



The logic of this ghrieba is just like the class ghrieba with almond but we just replace half the weight of homemade almond paste with peanuts.

I'll leave you with the recipe to make one of the chewiest macaroons or ghriebas known to mankind.


Ingredients
For about 20 ghriebas depending on the size
Prep : 20 min/ Baking : 18 min by batch
  • 250g almonds blanched
  • 250 g peanuts, blanched 
  • 1 egg + 1 yolk
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp of jam, sifted (apricot is preferred)
  • 1 tbsp of butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder.
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • 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 with icing
  • 200 g icing sugar

Method

Make-ahead nut task

If you are opting for a traditional way to do everything from scratch. Separately blanch the almonds and the peanuts for 2 minutes in boiling water. Drain and instantly start peeling the skin. Wash about 3 times and drain. Spread each nut 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 nuts to a paste, each one respectively.
Use 1/3 of the sugar for the almonds and 1/3 for the peanuts. Make sure you get a paste or at least a fine powder.

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 and peanut 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.


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.

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.





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