Sunday, 3 May 2015

Crunchy Moroccan Halwa del Qsseb and Debla

If you see these you might think they're cousins of Sicilian cannoli. Maybe they are. 

It seems that cannoli is a version of an Arab sweet from Baghdad which has made it to Sicily centuries ago. The name came from "qanawats" which means pipes or channels in Arabic. Theories are out there as for the origin, but let's concentrate on the yumminess of these. 

Since the dough is not sweet, dipping them in honey will bring the perfect sweetness

Well in Morocco, where this sweet was also famous at some point, is disappearing slowly but surely. Same thing for its quicker version made using a fork while frying it..

To make this Halwa del Qsseb, we use these bamboo pipes easily found in Morocco. They're used to roll silk threads which is used to embellish traditional Caftans. 

You could use the metallic ones commonly found in pastry/baking aisles but I have to say that using these bamboo rods gives an authentic flavor to these fried sweets. It's a bit like using an unglazed tagine versus a glazed one to make good Moroccan tagines.. 


The same dough is used to make fork-shaped crunchy fried sweets across Morocco. Their name would be just "halwa del fourchette" or "Debla". It consists of trapping a strip of dough in a fork, frying it and rolling it as you go..

I made these using a fork to shape them while they were frying
So here I give you The humble Moroccan halwa dial Qsseb (Pipe/Rod's sweet). 


Before we start, I want you  to make sure of the following:

  • Roll the dough thin,
  • Prick the roll dough it with a fork,
  • When you roll the dough around the pipe, make sure you stick the end firmly,
  • Fry on low-medium heat..The oil should not be too hot or they wont fry properly,
  • Once fried, release them from the pipes/rods.


Ingredients

Makes 24+
Prep: 20 min - Frying: About 3-4 min per batch

• 250 g of all purpose flour
• 1 tbsp of vanilla sugar or 1 tsp of vanilla extract or beans from 1 vanilla pod
• 30 g of butter, soft
• 3 tbsps of orange blossom water
• 120 ml of milk, lukewarm
• A pinch of salt

For frying
  • About 1 1/2 l of oil for frying
For finishing and decorating
  • 250 g of warm honey for dipping OR
  • Icing sugar for dusting the halwa
  • 100 g of blanched and fried almonds, roughly crushed

They're a wonderful garnish to vanilla ice cream
Preparation

Prepare the pipes

Soak the pipes in boiling water mixed with vinegar for a few hours.

Use a serrated knife to cut them into 2 unless you have a big pan and you want to make big halwas.

Drain and dry them with a kitchen towel. Slightly oil them from the smooth side.



Make the dough

In a bowl, combine all ingredients and work the mix about 2 minutes to have a smooth dough.

Place the dough in a plastic bag and set aside for 10 min.  Generously prick the dough with a fork.

Roll the dough about 1 mm thin and then cut squares about 6 cm large.


Roll each square around the rods/pipes. Make sure you pinch the end of the dough very well so it won't open during the frying step. You also need to make sure the ends of the pipes are not all covered with dough so it comes out after frying.



Frying and finishing Halwa del Qsseb

Heat the oil into a deep pan to medium. Start frying a few halwas, leaving space between each one.

If you see that they color fast, reduce the heat. They should fry to a golden color all the way through. They also have to be crispy and crunchy.

Place each halwa in a sieve and let it cool for 5 min. Push the pipe/rod out of the Halwa del Qsseb, it should come out without problem.

Drizzle honey or dip and roll them in. Roll each honeyed fried halwa into almonds.

You could generously dust them with icing sugar.

Serve at room temperature.

Keep extra halwa in a container or a Ziploc for a few days and serve when you want to indulge with a crunchy treat.


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