Almond briwats or “Moroccan almond samosas”

05/04/20224passionfood

Prep time: 1 hour

Cook time: 30 minutes

Serves: 70 pieces

When you think about Moroccan cuisine you’ll probably think about couscous, tagines and chicken pastilla which are the most popular.
But today, I’m here to talk about briwats (or briouates). These small Moroccan samosas stuffed with sweet or savoury filling, then fried or baked for a lighter version.

There are many varieties to make the savoury briwats, meat with spices, shrimp with chermoula or vegetables. They are most often prepared during the month of Ramadan to accompany harira ( the Moroccan soup).

The sweet version which is the recipe I’m sharing with you today is almond briwats. The filling is made of almond paste, perfectly flavoured with cinnamon, mastic and orange blossom water. The almond briwats are then fried (or baked) and soaked in honey.

Each family has its own recipe. Some use raw almonds, some fry the almonds or mix fried and raw almonds. My favourite way is to fry the almonds, you can of course roast them in the oven for a light version.
Traditionally the filling is wrapped in a very thin dough called “warqa” in Morocco, which we also use to make pastilla. Unfortunately there is no warqa in Dubai, but it’s easy to substitute it for spring roll pastry ( it works perfectly). You can use filo sheets, if you prefer to bake your briwats instead of frying them.

Almond briwats are one of the iconic Moroccan pastries and without any doubt they are my favourites.
They are made for special occasions, but are also very popular during the holy month of ramadan. We serve them with Moroccan tea after iftar, alongside with other traditional sweets such as sellou and chebakia.

Patience is the key word to make the almond briwats, please read the recipe before starting so you know how to organise your time.

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Almond briwats or “Moroccan almond samosas”

  • Prep time: 1 hour
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Serves: 70 pieces

Ingredients :

For the briwat :

  • 500 g raw almonds, ( or use blanched almonds )
  • 150 g light brown sugar, or caster sugar
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp apricot jam
  • 2 Tbsp orange blossom water
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp mastic
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 spring roll dough (pastry), (Less than 20 sheets 21cm*21cm)
  • 1 Tbsp All purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp water

Cooking :

  • 750 ml sunflower oil
  • 1 kg honey , (Choose a good quality of honey)

To decorate the briwat (optional ) :

  • Dried rose petals
  • Gold sheet

Method :

  • 1)

    First blanch the almonds. In a medium saucepan bring the water (enough to cover the almonds) to boil, then add the raw almonds and let it cook for about 4 minutes.

    Turn off the heat and drain the water.

     

    Once cool enough to handle it (but still hot), squeeze each almond between your fingers to remove the skin.

    You can also use a clean tea towel, put a small quantity inside the center of the tea towel cover and make some pressure with your hands (like if you’re rolling them) to take off the skin. Don’t squeeze hardly (it’s the same operation that we do to take off the skin from the chickpeas). Continue until you finish the whole quantity. If you’re using a big quantity of almonds, make sure to work in two or three batches, because peeling the almonds will be difficult once they cool. That’s why you have to peel them while hot (just be careful to not burn your fingers).

    Rinse the peeled almonds with water and let it drain for few minutes. Then spread them in a single layer on a tray lined with a clean tea towel, cover the almonds with another tea towel and let it dry for couple of hours or overnight at room temperature before proceeding.

    You can use a blanched almonds but it will be little bit hard to get a smooth almond paste. This technique takes time for sure but trust me it’s better.

     

  • 2)

    Next day, heat 250g of oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot (but not too much, otherwise the almonds will burn) fry the almonds in two batches, stirring constantly until you reach a nice light golden brown colour, make sur that the almonds will not get darker because they will continue to color once removed from the oil.

     

    Transfer the fried almonds to a plat lined with paper towel to absorb the excess of oil. Leave to cool.

    For a lighter version, preheat the oven to 170C Fan.

    Toss the blanched almond with 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil, then transfer them to a baking tray lined with parchment paper, bake for 20 minutes or until light golden brown.

     

  • 3)

    Now lets make the almond filling :

    In a food processor ( or a bender ), put the fried almond with 240g of sugar (we will use the remaining sugar to grind the mastic), and blitz until you have a powder, scarping down the sides of the bowl as you go. Then add the butter, the jam, the cinnamon , the mastic (powder) and pinch of salt. Continue to blitz adding the orange blossom water as you go, until you have a smooth tick paste (it shouldn’t be crumbly you’re looking for a play dough consistency). It’s important to make stops as you blitz to not heat the almonds paste.

    Transfer the almond paste to a plate, and knead the paste with your hands for about 2minutes to make sure that all ingredients are combined, and it’s easy to shape it into a ball.

     

    Make small balls (about 12g each the size of a cherry ).

     

     

     

  • 4)

    Now time to fold the briwat.

    First prepare your glue to seal the briwats, in a small bowl combine the flour and the water and mix together until you have a smooth mixture without any clumps ( add water if needed).

    Then cut the spring roll pastry into long strips with 4,5cm width (the one I used is 21cm*21cm so you’ll have a strips of 21cm*4,5cm). Keep the strips inside a plastic bag or a wet (just little) clean tea towel to prevent them from drying out.

    Place a ball of the almond paste at one edge of strip.

     

    Shape a small triangle by folding tightly the filling, press gently the almond paste to fill out the triangle and take a nice shape (you can make rolls instead of briwats (the triangle shape). As you can check YouTube for videos to see how to fold them).

    Once you reach the end of the strip brush with the flour mixture to seal it, and trim the excess dough to have a nice triangle shape. Repeat with the rest.

    Put the briwats in a plate cover with a cling film and set aside overnight at room temperature. With this technique the briwats will dry and not explode during the frying.

     

     

  • 5)

    In a medium bowl pour in the honey and set aside. You’ll probably see some recipes asking to heat the honey but please don’t for many reasons, the most important is heating the honey up to 37°C can have detrimental effects on the nutritional value of honey, so it will be shame to use a good quality of honey and at the end loose its benefits. And up to 50°C you’ll ended up with briwats coated in caramel when you’ll eat them it will stuck to your teeth.

    So please don’t heat the honey and you’ll see once you’ll put the hot briwats in it, it will be more liquid.

    Heat the oil in a deep frying pan over a medium heat (make sure that the heat isn’t high otherwise the oil will be so hot the briwats will take colour from outside but will not cook the inside. And if the oil is not hot enough it will take time to have a nice golden colour and meanwhile the filling will cook for longer and will be dry – so the oil should be at the right temperature).

    Fry the briwats in batches, stirring constantly until light golden brown. This will take between 6-8 minutes. Remove the briwats from the oil using a slotted spoon so you’ll drain any excess of oil and transfer directly to the honey. Try to push them down gently to ensure that all of the briwats are coated.

     

    Cover the bowl with a cling film and let the briwats in the honey overnight or at least 5 hours.

    Next day, transfer the briwats into a sieve to drain the honey. At that moment you can sprinkle some roasted almond flakes or roasted sesame seeds.

     

  • 6)

    The briwats can be kept in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for up to a month, or in the freezer for longer. If you decide to store them in the freezer, I advice you to separate the layer with a parchment paper so the briwats will not stuck together.

    Enjoy !! Decorate with gold sheet and dried rose petals if you like.

Nutrition

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