Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fourless Hazelnut Ghriba (Moroccan Nut Cookies)

  These Ghriba cookies are a flourless cookie, I've made with ground hazelnuts.  A moist and chewy cookie that comes from Morocco. Ghriba are  usually made with almonds or walnuts but being the hazelnut fan that I am, I decided to toast up some hazelnuts and give it a try.  I'm glad I did, these cookies are delightful, especially with a good cup of dark roast coffee!  I used a small tart shell mold to make these, just because I love the look but if you don't have such a mold, then forming them into round balls and flattening them slightly with your hands will make a perfectly beautiful cookie as well.


Makes 24 1 ounce cookies
450 grams (about 3 1/2 cups) hazelnuts, skins removed, see recipe.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon apricot jam or 1 tablespoon honey will work also
2 eggs,separated
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
24 hazelnuts, skins removed for topping the cookies
To remove the skins from the hazelnuts...
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Toast hazelnuts, including the 24 extra, in the oven for 8 minutes.  Remove from the oven and dump the nuts into a clean dish towel.  Gather together in a ball and rub the nuts with the towel for several minutes, being careful not to rub to vigorously so as not to break the nuts. 
 Notice how after baking, the skins have pulled away from the nuts?

 You likely wont remove every bit of the skin but do the best you can.  Save aside 24 of the cleanest nuts for topping the cookies with.
Turn down the oven to 350° F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
1.  In a food processor, add the skinned hazelnuts and process to a fine powder.  Transfer to a large bowl.
2.  Add the sugar, salt, cinnamon, apricot jam or honey, and 2 egg yolks.
3.  Mix with clean hands until combined, add the butter and mix until it comes together in a sticky mass.
4.  Mix the orange blossom water into the egg whites, set aside.
5.  Scoop up about a tablespoon of dough (1 ounce) and form into a ball the size of a walnut.  Continue with the rest, until you have used up all the dough.
6.  Place a hazelnut in the bottom of your mold.  Roll a dough ball in the egg white mixture, covering completely and carefully place the dough over the nut in the mold and press firmly into the mold. Tap the dough out of the mold and carefully place on the parchment lined baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining dough balls.

If you don't have a mold, simply place dough balls on the lined baking sheet and flatten slightly, carefully press a hazelnut into the top of each cookie.

7.  Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned around the bottom edges.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Remove to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.  Enjoy!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hot Cross Buns

 Good Friday is well upon us and I have to admit, it caught me a little off guard.  We've finally seen the end of winter and have been blessed with some really wonderful weather.  Needless to say, I've been spending my days out doors, cleaning gardens, gathering fallen branches and raking last years leaves.  I had planned to post this recipe sooner, my apologies.  It's not to late though, to make these moist, spicy, fruity gems for Easter morning breakfast!  

Happy Easter!   He is risen!


Makes 24, 3 ounce buns.  May be frozen for up to a month well wrapped in plastic wrap.

6 1/2 cups plus extra, unbleached white flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon sea salt
grated peel of 1 lemon
grated peel of 1 orange
2 1/4 cups of mixed dried fruit, I used half yellow and 1/2 dark raisins
2 cups hot water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 envelopes of active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
2 large eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten

For the crosses
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons water
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon heavy cream

one 1/2 sheet baking pan, lined with parchment paper

1.  In a small bowl, combine the raisins and 2 cups hot water, set aside for 15 minutes to plump.

2.  In a large bowl, mix the 6 1/2 cups flour, sugar, spices, salt and grated citrus peel.  Mix with a whisk until combined, set aside.

3.  Stir the yeast together with the 1/2 cup of warm water in a measuring cup. Add the 1 teaspoon sugar and stir well, and let stand until foamy about 5 minutes.

4.  Drain the soaked raisins through a sieve into a bowl and save the liquid, pressing out as much water as possible without smashing the raisins.  Measure 1 cup of the raisin water, discard any left and add 1/2 cup heavy cream to the 1 cup of raisin water, mix together.

5.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the yeast, the beaten eggs, the softened butter and the raisin water mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon just until mixed.

6.  Add the raisins and mix together to make a shaggy dough.  Remove the dough from the bowl onto a floured table.  Kneed the dough for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic working in more flour as needed to make a soft but not sticky dough.  

7.  Place the dough in a large clean bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Set in a warm draft free place and allow to rise until double in bulk.  About 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  When the dough has doubled in bulk, punch the dough down with your fist and turn out onto a clean counter.

8.  Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces (about 3 1/4 ounces) each.  Or roll into a fat log and cut 24 equal pieces. Shape each portion into a neat little ball and position on the parchment lined pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm draft free place to rise until almost double.  When double, set the oven temperature to 500° F.

 9.  To make the crosses, mix together the flour, sugar and water, in a small bowl.  Whisk together until completely smooth to make a slightly thick paste.  Pour into a sandwich bag and cut a very small hole (about 1/4 inch ) in the bottom corner of the bag.  Set aside.  With the back of a small knife, make a slight indentation in the shape of a cross on each bun.  Brush the buns with the egg wash then pipe a cross on each bun over the indentation.

10.  Put the tray into the oven and immediately turn down the heat to 400° F. and bake for 20 minutes, turning the pan half way through.  Buns should be a nice golden brown.  Remove the pan from the oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes then remove the buns from the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.



Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Rustic Apple Tart

I put this together today for my husband, he's been hinting for a pie and I've been wanting to make a tart, so I compromised... he's getting a tart.  This is a lovely tart, very simple to make, it consists of a Pasta Frolla, a basic pastry dough of Italian baking.  The dough is lightly sweet and has a tang of lemon.  The filling is simple, thinly sliced apples with a touch of sugar and a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg.  Serve it with a dollop of whipped sweet cream or serve warm with a little vanilla ice cream.  Of course, this beauty will naturally stand well enough on it's own!


Makes 1- 10 inch tart

For the pastry crust...
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
5 ounces (1 stick plus 2 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut in cubes
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 egg, beaten for brushing on top of crust

For the filling...
2 large apples, I used Cameo apples 
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
a few gratings of nutmeg, or a pinch of ground nutmeg
a few slivers of cold butter
apricot preserves for glazing

1.  To make the pastry crust, in the bowl of a food processor, add flour, cold butter, lemon peel, sugar and salt.  Process by pulsing until flour looks like course meal.

 2.  Add the egg and lemon juice and pulse until dough comes together.

3.  Gather together the dough and form into a disk, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

4.  Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator and unwrap.  Place the chilled dough on a lightly floured work table.  Roll the dough to approximately an 11 inch round circle.  Using a 10 inch removable tart pan disk, center the disk over the pastry round, and cut away the excess dough.  Carefully place the dough on top of the disk and place on a parchment lined baking pan.  Brush beaten egg over the entire top of the crust.  Set aside.

 5.  Cut the unpeeled apples into quarters and cut out the core.  Slice each quarter into thin slices, about 1/4 inch thick.  

6.  Place apple slices around the outer edge of the pastry, about a 1/4 inch in from the edge, overlapping the slices slightly.  Fill in the center in a circle, overlapping slices until center is filled.  Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of lemon juice over the apples.  Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of sugar evenly over apples.  Fresh grate nutmeg over top to taste, or sprinkle a pinch of ground nutmeg over the top.  Place slivers of butter here and there over the top.

7.  Bake for 20 minutes, turn the pan and bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes or until the edges are dark golden brown.  Heat 3 tablespoons of apricot jam in the microwave for 20 seconds, just to soften and brush over the entire top of the tart, covering all the apple slices, to give it a nice glisten. Let tart cool for 10 minutes on the baking pan, then with the help of a spatula, slide onto a serving dish.  Enjoy!