Archive for November, 2012

imageFrom my previous posts you may have noticed my love affair with middle eastern food. This time round yet another sweet delight caught my eye while watching one of my favourite TV Shows – World Kitchen presented by Nici Wickes.

The very presentation of this dessert being baked to a perfect golden crunch and the glossy syrup on the pastry was just too hard to resist, that watching it on TV alone was not enough. And so yes I just had to make it.

I normally play it safe when entertaining people at home. But this time I felt a bit too brash and felt like taking a bit of a risk. It was received with gusto and much appreciation. So much so that my friend asked me to make it for her thanksgiving dinner and I also made it on the occasion of my farewell send off at work this week as a special thank you to you my work mates.

Handling filo is normally a challenge, but this is probably one of the most easily prepared sweet treats. So don’t be daunted and feel adventurous. And the effort is so worth it and you’ll experience bliss in every mouthful. And the Orange Blossom water is unlike any other ingredient I have ever used in cooking. It’s by far the most exotic  ingredient I have used in cooking and the outcome is every bit so.

Here’s the recipe for M’hancha, a sweet treat all the way from the culinary haven of Morocco.


Almond Filling
2 cups ground almonds
1 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons orange blossom or rose-water
3 tablespoons butter, melted
For the pastry
13 sheets filo pastry
3 tablespoons butter, meltedHoney Syrup
½ cup honey
Zest from one orange
1 tablespoons orange blossom
¼ cup slithered almonds


Preheat the oven to 180 C. Place a baking paper in a circular pie plate or baking dish.

In a  bowl combine the almond filling ingredients and mix well to form a smooth firm paste. Divide the filling into 4 portions, each portion pinched in the form of a log  so this can be placed along the edge of the filo pastry.

Take one sheet of filo and brush with butter, then layer another 2 sheets on top, buttering between each. Keep the remaining filo covered with a damp tea towel so that it doesn’t dry out.

Place one of the almond logs across the long edge of the filo layers and roll up loosely. Repeat the process so that you have total of 4 pastry logs. Leave a spare sheet of filo to patch up any cracks.

Place one log on the baking tray, seam-side down, and carefully curl into a spiral, pinching the centre end closed. Join the next log onto the end and continue to coil, then add the remaining two logs and spiral until you have a large coiled pie! Patch up any cracks with the spare pastry and give the whole pie a final brush with butter.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden and crispy. Meanwhile, heat the syrup ingredients in a saucepan. Remove the pastry snake from the oven. Brush or drizzle with honey syrup, and then scatter with almonds.

Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into wedges.

imageWhen serving  I coupled it with some ‘Deep South’ French Vanilla ice cream which was super yummy. The warm sweetness of the pastry with the cold ice cream was both sunshine and snow on a single plate. Ultimate heaven!

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