3 types of Noisettes or Boule au chocolat found in Moroccan dairy shops or old-style bakeries

Noisette or boule au chocolat, the Mahlaba’s leftover cake


Noisette or boule au chocolat is one of the names given to this cake ball which basically have no fixed recipe. It’s commonly found in old bakeries and Mahlabas  (dairy shops widely available in Moroccan cities and one of the most important part of the Moroccan street food world).


Recycling cakes

The recipe is all about using cake and cream leftovers which can be moistened with a vanilla sugar syrup then shaped just as big as a golf ball. It is then finished with a sprinkle of crushed peanuts or chocolate vermicelli.

Noisette chocolate cake balls can be anywhere from creamy soft to dense as far as texture is concerned. Even the same mahlaba or bakery may not reproduce the same outcome consistently. You can even use stale cake crumbs and bind them with a cheap chocolate buttercream or whipped cream. Add some crushed blanched and toasted almonds or peanuts for fanciness.

I used to buy a version from mahlaba with a thin layer of whipped cream between the cake mix and chocolate layer and I’d say this used to be my favourite.

For the sake of this post, I have bought 3 chocolate cake balls from different mahlabas which are literally lined up you would think it’s the same shop. Yet, the 3 cakes had nothing to do with each others. 

So if you are familiar with this chocolate cake ball many of us in Moroccan cities have tried at some point in their lives and you want to reproduce something similar, I suggest the following guidelines:

How to recycle old cakes

– Get a cheap vanilla flavouring option and make a simple sugar syrup. The syrup is mostly to keep the cake mix ball moist.
– Melt a cheap chocolate for coating, 
– If your usual version of cake ball has chocolate buttercream, it must be the cheapest drinking cocoa powder mix you should be picking for this recipe,
– For crunchiness; sprinkle toasted peanuts, not even blanched fried almonds (Moroccans will definitely understand me in this one),
– Use a spongy cake for optimal results but if you are used to a denser texture, you will be more likely better off with bundt cake or a buttery cake for the mix. 

The binding of crumbs and  finishing of this cake ball depends on the version you’ve been used to: whipped cream, melted dark chocolate, crunchy nuts, chocolate vermicelli..


A serving of Moroccan spiced Msemmen bought from a stall in Safi

Giant Moroccan spiced onion Msemmens from Street food Morocco


During these hot summer days, I can only salute these people who work so hard, outside in the heat, to earn a living, especially our superwomen who are the pillars of their families!

I remember the day I took these photos, we’ve just finished our late lunch after visiting the clay and pottery making shops in Safi. It was just too hot out there and these women, after clearing up the little shop from all things related to lunch, they had to get on the things to be done for snacking time, namely msemmen and harcha.

The grandma was in charge of chopping while the daughter was in charge of cleaning the little shop/restaurant/joint. Finally, the grand-daughter who was on summer break was in charge of making the giant msemmens (stuffed and plain) and the mega-harcha. It was all about teamwork!

Usually, these mega creations get sold by weight so one can only ask for 1 Moroccan Dirham and get an individual slice (cut like a wedge). That’s a snack on the go.

This spiced msemmen is not far from the one posted previously. It’s done the same way only on a larger scale but instead of fresh tomatoes, tomato paste is added to the mix. It may not be the case for some other vendors..

The main spices remain paprika, cumin and a discreet chili powder addition hardy noticeable.

The main herb used is usually parsley (a great deal) but a bit of coriander could be added to.

These giant squares are for plain msemmen, prepared next to the spiced msemmens

You will find the spiced onion msemmen sold in most of the cities. Just look for it around 4 -5 pm..Whoever prepares it and sell it always sell Moroccan tea with it. They’re a marriage made in Heaven.

My portion..eating it while strolling the Safi old market


Moroccan khlii tartlets

Lactose-free Moroccan khlii tartlets


Those mini-tartlets with naturally caramelised onions and bits of khlii (which you can replace with smoky bacon) are really irresistible, especially if you serve them along with pickles.

I prefer to use this fuss-free dough as a base to make them but you can use a savoury shortcrust of puff pastry dough.

This recipe is freezer-friendly at any stage: either when you make the dough or shape it in its moulds, or fill it or even bake it all.


Moroccan khlii tartlets

Moroccan khlii tartlets. Credit @Nada Kiffa


Moroccan khlii tartlets

Moroccan bitesize khlii tartlets are easy to make. I would suggest you make you own dough unless you can'r do othewise. These tartlets are freezer-friendly at any stage of the making. Very handy for buffets and last minutes visitors.

Lactose-free dough

  • 300 gram flour
  • 90 ml boiling water
  • 10 ml white vinegar
  • 100 ml oil (50/50 olive oil/vegetable oil)
  • 5 gram baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • tarragon or thyme (optional)

For the filling

  • 2 onions (medium-size, finely sliced)
  • 100 gram khlii (or jerk meat, in small strips)
  • 100 gram cheese (grated, lactose-free or Edam, gruyère for a Non-lactose free version)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 3 sundried tomatoes (or confit of tomatoes or cherry tomatoes)

For garnishing

  • parsley leaves
  1. Start preparing the filling that needs cooking to allow time for it to cool.

Onion filling

  1. Allow the onions to sweat in olive oil for a minute. Season with salt and pepper.

  2. Add 1/2 cup of water and cover. Onions need to become tender and water must evaporate. This step should take about 20 minutes.

  3. Add the butter and herbs and stir. The onions should start turning from creamy to nicely golden.

  4. Set aside to cool. Fold in sun-dried tomatoes and bits of khlii.

The dough

  1. Mix all ingredients together except flour and baking powder which you need to add just afterwards. Combine to a dough.

  2. Roll over a floured surface as thin as you can (about 1 mm). Do not over-flour the surface so the dough keeps a good texture after it's baked.

  3. Cut shapes that will fit into your moulds, press the bottom to expel air and the edges firmly.

  4. Prick them as much as you can

  5. At this stage, you can either freeze the dough shells before or after you fill them or bake them and freeze them later on.

  6. I freeze the dough in the moulds for 15 minutes, by the time the oven is well preheated.

Assembly and baking

  1. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees C. Place all the mini-moulds in a baking sheet. Blank bake the dough for about 12 – 15 min.

  2. Place the onions mixed with sun-dried tomatoes and khlii bits on top. Sprinkle some grated cheese.

  3. Bake for about 5-7 minutes.Serve at room temperature.


Moroccan goat rolls or sbiaat jben

Moroccan goat cheese rolls – sbiaats jben


Saiss Jben is the secret to these Moroccan cheese rolls or as we call them Sbiaats in reference to fingers. Saiss is a fertile geographical area in the Northern part famous for many things, including its goat cheese.

To make these Moroccan cheese rolls, you don’t have to go to Fez or Northern Morocco to get the cheese. You can use anything between ricotta to a crumbled feta to a goat cheese buche (without the rind). You can also use cream cheese Philadelphia or Kirri. You can mix different type of fresh cheeses provided that you strain the watery ones.

Moroccan goat rolls or sbiaat jben

Moroccan goat rolls or sbiaat jben. Credit @Nada Kiffa

Where to find Jben Saiss

You will find this Jben anywhere from Fez to the North. Jben can be prepared using cow’s milk but the one I’m all about today is prepared with goat cheese.

Jben Saiss comes in different textures, from soft to hard. It also comes with different saltiness.

Fresh or aged cheese

Some like it slightly aged and some like it as fresh as it gets. So when I’m in front of it, I just pick a bit of everything.

While some of the cheeses might have rennet in them, you can come buy a vegetarian version of Jben Saiss using herbs and fig extract to bring it to that texture.

We happen to have our trusted cheese man located in the old part of the city and his cheese has no rennet. When I’m in Fez, I buy a decent amount and freeze it for future use, especially for these goat cheese rolls.

Now these cheese rolls can be on the savoury side, using mint or parsley or just plain. But they can also be served slightly sweet by adding a hint of sugar and orange blossom to the cheese mix then drizzling them with honey once fried.

If you choose to shallow- fry these cheese rolls, make sure you start with an oil just about warm. I tend to bake them but the picture used in this post is one of fried rolls (prepared by my auntie), hence the uniform colour.
Depending on the texture of the cheese, some prefer to add an egg (to 250g cheese) to ensure a creamy texture but I never do.

Moroccan goat cheese rolls- Sbiats jben

  • 250 gram cottage cheese (ricotta, crumbled cheese, jben..)
  • 8 sheets warka (or good phyllo do)
  • 1 egg yolk (Optional, in case the cheese is not crumbly)
  • salt (to taste)
  • pepper (optional)
  • mint leaves (chopped, optional if not using honey to coat the cheese rolls)
  • oil (for frying or)
  • 100 gram better (melted, to rub the rolls if you choose to bake them)

Flour paste

  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp flour (+/-)
  1. In a large bowl, mix the egg with a fork, crumble the cheese in and add the rest of the ingredients. You can make this step ahead and leave it in the fridge for a few hours.

Shaping the rolls (or triangles)

  1. If you are using large sheets or ouarka or phyllo, think about cutting them in half (at least) to shape the triangles or in large strips to make the rolls. Place the ouarka sheet on your work surface shiny side down.

  2. If you are going to fry it, you don't need to brush with butter. If rolls or triangles are going to the oven, then brushing the ouarka sheets with butter is important. 

  3. Put a little filling in the bottom of the sheet, a few centimetres from the edge, fold the sides of the sheet over the filling lengthwise making sure the sides are neat and even at all time. (see how to shape a roll). 

  4. Fold the strip on itself as you go. Make sure the cheese is trapped inside the wrapping as you don't want it to overflows during frying or baking. 

  5. You could seal the last bit of the roll by smearing a bit of flour paste. Place the rolls in the fridge, covered with a cling film until you are ready to fry or bake them. 

Frying vs baking the cheese rolls

  1. To fry the rolls, make sure the oil is just about warm in the beginning. Flip the rolls or triangles a couple of times making sure it's nicely golden from both sides. 

  2. To bake the rolls, preheat the oven at 180 degrees C. Grease a baking sheet with a tiny bit of oil. Place the rolls in and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, making sure to flip them halfway.

  3.  Serve at room temperature within the hour.  


You can grate cold cuts, shop some olives and add to the cheese mix. You could use ouarka or  a shortcrust dough to make mini-turnovers..Egg wash and bake for about 20 minutes at 180 degree C.