Sunday, March 8, 2009

Tunisian Almond Pastries

One thing I miss from Tunisia is the pastries. They were so rich and so good! They often use nuts in their pastries, and that is the main ingredient here. I'm not sure of the name in Arabic, I think it's kaaber louz, and in French they are Boulettes aux amandes. I like the flavor - it reminds me a lot of sugar cookie dough. We have a 3 pound bag of almonds, so I decided to make some and was pleased by how quick and easy they are! Ideally, you should use blanched almonds for a lighter flavor and color, but regular ones worked fine, too. A common practice is to either cover the outside in nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, or pistachios) or to color 1/3 of the dough red, 1/3 green, and to roll bits of all 3 together to make multi-color balls. If you blanch the almonds yourself, it will definitely take you longer to make these!

Tunisian Almond Pastries
Serves: 6-8

1 1/2 cups almonds
1 2/3 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons water (for more authentic taste, use rose water or orange flower water)

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water

- Combine syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the dough.
- For the dough: Powder almonds in a food processor (blender might work, but do just part at a time.) In a bowl, combine almonds and powdered sugar. Add water a tiny bit at a time, stirring to blend. You want the dough to barely cling together, and you may not need the whole 2 tablespoons. Form the dough into balls about the size of a tablespoon.
- When syrup has thickened remove from heat (about 10-15 minutes - when boiling, the bubbles stay on the surface for a second and look almost soapy).
- Coat each ball in syrup. You can stop there, or then roll in chopped nuts to coat. You can eat right away, or let sit for an hour to firm up more. Should last for 1-2 weeks in an air-tight container.

Here's the first batch I made, too. They weren't quite as pretty.

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Try this and want to share how it went? Have questions before you try it? Let me know!