This traditional Moroccan pastry is made with flaky phyllo dough and filled with a sweet almond paste. It’s the perfect treat to share with friends and family during the holiday season.
- 250 gr blanched almonds
- 120 gr caster sugar
- Pinch cinnamon
- Pinch salt
- 3 tablespoons orange blossom water
- 10 gr unsalted butter, softened
To roll the pastry
- 8 sheets filo pastry, 20 x 30 cm (200 gr)
- 50 gr unsalted butter, melted
- 300 gr honey
- Ground nuts and freeze dried berries for decoration (optional)
• Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F)
• Start with the almond paste, you will use it to fill the mhencha. Transfer the almonds and sugar in a nut grinder or a food processor and run until it becomes a moist paste. This will take a bit of time, about 5 minutes. Add in the orange blossom and butter and run again for a few seconds. Remove the paste and divide it into 8 equal parts. Shape each part into long tubes (approximately 30 cm) and cover with cling film.
• Place a filo sheet on a work surface and brush it with melted butter (keep the other ones covered with a cloth to avoid from drying out). Take an almond paste tube, place it on the long side of a filo pastry and loosely roll up the sheet. Don’t be tempted to over-tighten the pastry when rolling it because it will break during the baking process. Cover the rolled almond paste with more melted butter and roll it up to form a snug coil. Place the mhencha onto a lined baking sheet and repeat until you’ve used all the almond paste and filo sheets. Transfer in the warm oven until they are baked and lightly golden, about 15 minutes
• Meanwhile, heat the honey in a small saucepan over medium heat. Avoid burning the honey by controlling the heat, once it’s foamy, you should reduce the heat.
• Once the pastries are baked, immediately transfer to the simmering honey and soak for 2 minutes. You will have to do this in batches as all the pastries won’t fit in the pan.
• Remove to a flat dish to cool before serving. Decorate with ground nuts and/or freeze dried berries if desired.