This easy Moroccan recipe can be quickly thrown together for unexpected company or as a last-minute addition to a tea time table. Change it up by mixing in the optional raisins, anise and/or sesame seeds.
While pan-fried harcha is regarded as a stove top bread, harcha that's been baked in the oven (harcha dyal ferran or harcha au four) is definitely more of a cookie – hence, its other name, harcha hlouwa (sweet harcha).
Both versions of harcha are traditionally made with semolina (), but this variation includes the similarly-textured cornmeal for added flavor. Eggs, rather than milk, provide most of the liquid needed to transform the dry ingredients to a dough.
The cookies will keep for several days in an airtight container at room temperature or freeze for later serving. I find the flavor improves after a day.
- 3/4 cup (125 grams) fine semolina
- 3/4 cup (125 grams) cornmeal
- 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons (75 grams) granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons (2 small envelopes) baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (or 1 envelope vanilla sugar)
- 1 teaspoon anise seed (optional)
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)
- Optional: 1/4 cup raisins (to taste)
- 1/3 cup (80 mL) vegetable oil (or melted butter)
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons milk (if necessary)
- For the Garnish:
- 1 tablespoon semolina or cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
You'll be mixing and working with the dough by hand so it will be helpful to measure out ingredients and have them ready.
Preheat your oven to 338 F (170 C).
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the semolina and cornmeal in a large bowl. Add the oil and mix it in with your fingers to obtain a sandy mixture. Add in the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder and mix them into the semolina and cornmeal mixture with your fingers.
If you're using anise, sesame or raisins, mix them in now as well. Add the vanilla and eggs, and stir them in with your fingers to make a very wet dough. If the dough is not wet, gently knead in milk, a tablespoon or two at a time, to add the necessary moisture.
Take a large spoonful of dough about the size of a small plum (it will be a bit too wet to shape easily) and roll it in the semolina and sugar garnish.
Once coated, you can handle the dough gently to roll it or toss it in your cupped hand to shape a ball.
Place the ball on your prepared baking sheet and flatten slightly.
Repeat with the remaining dough.
Bake the harcha about 20 minutes or until golden. Some people prefer them on the dark side.
Allow the cookies to set briefly before transferring them to a rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.