Monday, April 4, 2011

M'Hanncha - Moroccan snake cake :)

M'Hanncha, translated as "Snake cake" is a Moroccan dessert. It is traditionally made with an almond paste filling, but, I made mine with dates and a nut mixture, sweetened with honey. So, it is actually all the stuff that is good for you, but, what is in a dessert without any butter, a.k.a. the tasty stuff ?!!! The filling is then, wrapped with some phyllo dough sheets and butter is spread in between the layers of the dough ;) Yummm!

2 cups dates
1 cup blanched or slivered almonds
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup pistachios
4 tbsp honey
2 tbsp rose water
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tbsp orange zest or the zest from one orange*

1 roll of phyllo dough, thawed
6 tbsp butter, melted
1 egg yolk

6 tbsp honey
4 tbsp rose water
4 tbsp water
1 tbsp orange zest or the zest from one orange*

* The traditional recipe calls for orange blossom water, but, I used orange zest, instead.

Steam the dates for 10 minutes or until soft.
Dry roast the nuts, until golden brown and aromatic.
Run the nuts in the food processor and make it into a coarse mixture.
Do the same with the dates and its okay if it turns into a sticky paste.
Add the nuts and the dates to a mixing bowl and mix well.
Add the honey, rose water, cinnamon, cardamom and the orange zest.
Mix well and the the mixture will come together into a ball.
You can actually sneak some at this stage too ;) C'mon you deserve it!
Take some of this mixture and using your hands, roll it into a log(approximately one inch diameter and eleven inches long)
Thaw and unroll one roll of phyllo dough. Cover it with a damp paper towel or kitchen towel (Make sure it is not wet).
Take two sheets and lay them on a work surface(I covered my work surface with parchment paper, just in case the sheets stick to the surface) with the length of the sheet towards you.
Brush some melted butter on the sheet. Instead, you can try spraying some butter flavored cooking spray for a reduced calorie option).
Lay 2 or 3 more sheets on the buttered sheets. Make sure to cover the remaining phyllo dough sheets with the damp towel.
Place the mixture made into a log, along the edge of the length of the sheet. FYI, The sheet is 14 inches in length and 9 inches in width. 
Roll the sheet along the length, so that the mixture becomes the filling wrapped in phyllo dough, resembling a log. Gently press to relieve any air-gap between the filling and the wrapper.
Tuck in or fold the remaining/ unfilled ends of the log.
Butter a 8 x 8 baking dish.
Place this log in the center and roll/ coil it around itself. It might break at some points and that is okay!
Make similar filling logs, wrap it with phyllo dough and coil it in a similar way, tightly, end to end, filling the entire baking dish. There lies our snake!
Brush the coiled snake with melted butter and then with a egg yolk, to brown it while baking.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 F and bake the pastry for 30-35 minutes. Make sure it does not burn.
While it is in the oven, let us make the syrup!
Mix the honey, rose water, water and orange zest, together in a sauce-pan. Taste a few drops and if you find the orange over-powering as I did, filter it.
Bring the remaining liquid to a boil and turn off the heat.
Once the snake is out of the oven, pour the syrup evenly over it.
Let it cool for sometime. Enjoy it warm or cold and I am sure you will love it, either way!
We enjoyed it warm with some vanilla ice-cream on top.......Hmmmm.............Welcome to bliss!!!

1 comment:

  1. It looks great .... makes me try this whenever I get time...Great Job.