Moroccan Ghrouibas or ghriebas with Almonds- Ghrieba del ‘aakda or mlewza
Depending on who is going to be served these, I make them anywhere from a small bouchée for big buffets or regular size for traditional Moroccan events, Sometimes I make them American cookie style, flatter and larger. We are gifting most of them to some friends today.
- 500g almonds blanched, peeled and ground to paste (do not use almond powder)
- 250 g powdered sugar
- 1 egg + 1 yolk
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp of jam (apricot is preferred)
- 1 tbsp of butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon baking powder.
- Zest of 1 large lemon
- 1 slice of candied orange peel, finely chopped (optional, but the flat ghrouibas usually has it)
- A good pinch of Mastic gum or Meska
- Essence of Almond (3 to 4 drops if you suspect that the almonds do not have a strong taste)
- 300 g of almond flakes
- 2 egg whites
- 300 g icing sugar
Blanch the almonds for 2 minutes in boiling water. Drain and instantly start peeling the skin. Wash about 3 times and drain. Spread them in one layer over a kitchen towel and rub to dry them further.
My family usually leaves the trays in a balcony or the garden in sunny days but I place the nuts in a very hot oven which I knock off before they go in. They stay a good 10 minutes and they’re ready.
Next, use a good food processor to turn these almond to a paste. Add 2/3 of the caster sugar to help getting a good paste.
The fact of having a paste helps with the chewiness of the ghriebas, but if you are unlucky with the food processor, double the quantity for apricot jam.
Mix mastic gum with 1 teaspoon of caster sugar and crush it with the bottom of a glass or use a pestle and mortar to do the job. It will take you 5 seconds.
Preheat the oven at 170 degrees C and cover 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
Prepare a deep plate or bowl with sifted icing sugar.
Drop the balls in the icing sugar so they coat from one side and all around. They need to pick as much icing sugar as possible as this plays a major role in the highly sought crackling.
Prepare 1 bowl or deep plate with egg whites and spread a thick layer of almond flakes in a deep plate.
Roll the balls in egg white. Use a fork to fish them out and wait for the excess egg white to drip, use a finger to sweep it. Roll in flaked almonds, flatten to 15 mm and place in the baking tray.
|You can shape them like that and finish them with flaky almonds|
If you are using a traditional oven, bake on position “grill” until it crackles then bake from the bottom. I usually put the 2 positions ON at the same time. This way it bakes in 18 minutes.
- Mastic gum or meska is the secret ingredient that gives this delicate taste. The spoon of jam reinforces the chewy texture. Although some also call it gum arabic but I believe there is a difference. The one used in our Moroccan baking usually comes from Greece. Gum arabic is from a species of Acacia, while mastic gum is in the Pistacia family and is related to frankincense.
- Always keep lemon rinds with the chewy ghriebas in an airtight container as they help them keep their texture and the lemon touch longer.
|Flat version “cookie-like”|