How to Make Almond Briouats - Moroccan Almond Pastries with Honey

  • 01 of 09

    Almond Briouats

    Briouats with Almonds and Honey. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    For a one-page printable version, see this Almond Briouat Recipe.

    The Moroccan sweets pictured above are just one of many varieties of briouats, a pastry made by wrapping a filling in thin pastry dough and then frying. The fillings might be savory or sweet.

    In the popular Almond Briouat version, the pastries are filled with fresh almond paste flavored with orange flower water and cinnamon. Once fried, the pastries are then given a short soaking in hot honey for flavor and sweetness. Almond Briouats are commonly served at both special occasions and casual tea times.

    The following photos show how to make the cookies following this classic Almond Briouat Recipe. They're usually made in a large quantity, so you might want to reduce the recipe by half. You may find an extra set of hands in the kitchen to be helpful.

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  • 02 of 09

    Blanch and Peel the Almonds

    Blanch and Peel the Almonds. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    You'll be starting with 1 kg (2 lbs. 3 oz.) of raw almonds. Ahead of time, blanch and peel the almonds – drop them into boiling water for a minute or two, drain them, and then pop the hot almonds out of their skins. Spread the almonds in a single layer on a towel and leave to dry. Store the cooled, dry almonds in a covered container in the fridge until ready to proceed.

    In Morocco, you can find regular almonds (luz roumi) pre-packaged in supermarkets, similar to the ones shown above. Although they'll work fine in this recipe, many Moroccans favor the smaller (traditional or organic almonds) for pastry recipes. Grown in the Atlas Mountains and appreciated for their superior flavor, they can be purchased at the souk or from spice and nut shops.

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  • 03 of 09

    Fry Half of the Almonds

    Fry Half of the Almonds in Batches. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Divide the blanched almonds into two portions. You'll be frying only half of the almonds for the briouat recipe.

    When you're ready to fry, heat about 1/4" of vegetable oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Fry half of the blanched almonds in batches, stirring constantly, until light to medium golden brown. Each batch should take 5 minutes or longer, providing the oil isn't too hot. Don't allow the almonds to get any darker, as they'll continue to color once removed from the oil. Transfer the almonds to a strainer or tray lined with paper towels and leave to cool.

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  • 04 of 09

    Grind the Almonds with the Sugar

    Grind the Almonds in a Food Processor. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    When the fried almonds have cooled, you're ready to make the almond paste. Measure out 400 g ( 1 3/4 cup) of granulated sugar.

    In a food processor, grind the the fried almonds with about half of the sugar until the almonds form a moist paste. Repeat the process with the blanched almonds and the remaining sugar.

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  • 05 of 09

    Mix and Knead the Almond Paste Filling

    Mix the Almond Paste. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    In a large bowl or on a tray, use your hands to knead and mix the ground almonds with:

    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon mastic or gum arabic powder
    • 125 g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
    • 80 ml (1/3 cup) orange flower water

    The resulting paste should be moist enough to pack and shape.

    The day I was taking the photos, we found our almonds to be drier than normal – they remained a bit powdery even after being ground for a very long time in the processor. Normally, if processed long enough, almonds release their natural oils and begin turning to a paste. We compensated for the dryness in our paste by mixing in a little more butter and orange flower water than the recipe called for, and then returning the mixture to the food processor in batches to grind a bit more smoothly. You can try the same technique if you feel your almonds also didn't process as moistly and smoothly as you'd like.

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  • 06 of 09

    Roll Balls of Almond Paste and Fold the Briouats

    Shape and Fold the Briouats. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Shape all of the the almond paste into balls. We made ours about the size of cherries, which is adequate filling for a small 5cm wide triangular briouat. You can make yours larger if you like.

    Enclose the almond paste balls in 5cm wide strips of warqa (fillo dough can be used as a substitute) and fold into a triangular shape. (Larger balls will require wider strips of dough.) Press the filling gently to fill out the shape as you fold. (Note that you'll be using about 1.25 kg (2 lbs. 12 oz.) of warqa.)

    This tutorial will show the briouat folding technique if you're not familiar with it. Be extra careful that the dough completely encloses the almond paste in this step and the next to ensure that hot oil won't come into contact with the filling during frying.

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  • 07 of 09

    Fry the Briouats

    Fry the Pastries. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Over medium heat, heat 1/4" to 1/2" of oil in a deep frying pan. At the same time, heat 1 kg of honey mixed with 1 tablespoon of orange flower water in a wide pot or second deep frying pan. Remove the honey from the heat when it is quite hot and becomes lightly foamy on top.

    Fry the briouat in batches in the hot oil, stirring gently and turning over several times, until light golden brown. On average this takes about 5 to 7 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the fried pastries directly from the oil to the hot honey.

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  • 08 of 09

    Soak the Pastries in Honey

    Coat the Briouats with Honey. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Soak the first batch of pastries in the hot honey while you fry the second batch of briouats. Try to keep the briouats submerged by pushing down on them gently. When the next batch of briouats is almost ready to be removed from the oil, transfer the ones which have been soaking in honey to a strainer.

    As you work with the remaining batches of briouats the volume of honey will decrease as it's absorbed by the pastries. You'll find that instead of submerging the pastries, you'll need to turn them over several times to ensure that they're getting coated as they soak. If the honey eventually seems to cool and thicken, heat it again to thin it. You can also add more honey to the pot if you find it easier to work that way.

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  • 09 of 09

    Leave the Briouats to Cool

    Cool the Almond Briouats Before Storing. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    After the briouats have drained for a few minutes, transfer them to a platter or tray to finish cooling. Leave them for an hour or longer to cool thoroughly before storing.

    The briouats can be kept in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for a month, or in the freezer for several months. If storing in the freezer, place a sheet of plastic wrap between layers to make it easy to remove only as many cookies as you need.

    Save the cooled honey for making more almond briouats, chebakia, or for making a honey and butter syrup for msemen, meloui or beghrir.