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!


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