Life by Chocolate

Chocolate, white, milk, dark, in all its forms forms life. Chocolate truffles, caramels, and other confections are at the core of enjoyment. This is life by chocolate because death by chocolate is the wrong attitude.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Eve Tree Decorating Pastries - M'hanncha

We usually get our tree either on Christmas Eve or the day before but no matter when we buy or cut down our tree, we always decorate on Christmas Eve. While decorating we have eggnog and pastries. Last year, I did Chaussons Aux Pommes, well they actually I used Cherries. This year, I did M'hanncha, a great Moroccan Snake Pastry. It is rolled and coiled filo dough stuffed with almond past.

Almond Paste Filling

8-15 sheets of filo dough. I like to use 3 sheets per snake but Nancy, my pastry chef uses 5.
1/3 cup granulated sugar.
2 1/2 cups of blanched almonds
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 tablespoons orange blossom water
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Honey Water

1/4 cup good honey
2 tablespoons orange blossom water

as needed melted butter
as needed egg yolk wash
as needed fried almond slivers. (Fry the almond slivers in butter until golden.)

Fried Almonds. I used slice rather than slivers. I like the look better and that's what I had.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

First get the dough of the refrigerator and over with a damp cloth so that it does not dry out. If you bought frozen dough, and I recommend you buy your filo, make sure to defrost it IN YOUR REFRIGERATOR the night before.

Next, lets make the almond paste. This is very easy. Do not over think this. In a Cuisinart, mix the sugar, almonds, butter, orange blossom water and the 1t of cinnamon. This should take about 5-10 minutes in the Cuisinart.

You may want to make the paste a little finer than the one shown hear.

Next, and really this is all there is to it, roll our the almond paste into a snake almost as long as the filo dough's longest side. Then take 3-5 sheets of filo dough, apply melted butter gently and then place the almond paste snake in the filo and roll as shown in the picture. Create about three snakes.

Mise en place

Note that I am holding the filo in landscape.

And roll.


Roll your snake.

Use the melted butter to grease an 8 inch pie pan. I like to use glass. Then coil the snakes into a spiral shape and apply butter and then the egg yolk wash to the coils.

Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown. While you are waiting, heat the honey until it's fluid. I like it to just start simmering. Keep hot and add the orange blossom water to it.

When you take the M'hanncha out of the oven, drizzle the honey water on top of the snake and decorate with the fried almonds. Then eat.

I also created a pistachio version. To make the pistachio version substitute pistachios for the almonds, rose water for the orange blossom water and I would cut the filling recipe in half.

I didn't and the pistachio was so solid and blocking it was hard to chew and rather lumpy but delicious.

Shape as before. You can see how much more substantial the pistachio is than the almond.

Roll as before.

Bake as before and sprinkle rose water honey water on top. I didn't add any decorations. You may want to add a little raw crushed pistachio. Then eat. Yummer.

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