Arabic honey slice

Arabic honey slice

Alaju

By
From
Moorish
Makes
18
Photographer
Mark Roper

A kind of Middle Eastern panforte, this ancient Arabic sweetmeat comes from Spain courtesy of the Moors, and is simplicity itself to make. It is a bit fiddly skinning the blanched pistachios, and not absolutely essential if you can’t be bothered. BUT, the resulting little nuggets of brilliant jade green are a joy to behold. Toast them for a few minutes brushed with a little oil in a really hot oven to make them nice and crunchy. Similarly, it is worth shallow-frying the almonds to a golden brown – it makes for a toastier flavour, and a superior crunchy texture. Once the business with the nuts is out of the way, the rest of the recipe is an absolute doddle.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
50ml vegetable oil
125g whole blanched almonds
30g blanched and peeled unsalted pistachios
250g honey
1/2 lemon, coarsely grated zest
1 orange, coarsely grated zest
150g stale white bread, crusts removed
1 teaspoon orange-blossom water
1 teaspoon aniseed seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
2 sheets rice paper, each 24 cm square

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the almonds over a gentle heat until golden brown. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Repeat with the pistachios.
  2. Put the honey into a saucepan with the citrus zests and slowly bring to a simmer.
  3. Meanwhile, blitz the bread in a food processor to make coarse crumbs. Add the nuts to the hot honey, and then the breadcrumbs. Stir continuously for about 5 minutes. It will look very unpromising to start off, and after a few minutes it will begin to come together in a solid mass, and thicken to a stiff, almost glutinous paste. Keep stirring and turning, which will become increasingly hard work, until the 5 minutes is up. Then remove the pan from the heat and add the orange-blossom water and aniseed, stirring again to incorporate into the mass.
  4. Turn the mixture out onto on sheet of rice paper, and pat it into a round disc about 20 cm diameter. Cover with the second piece of rice paper and press down gently to about a finger’s width in height. You may find it easier, as we did, to use a small jar, or a rolling pin to roll the paste out to a smooth, even height. Neaten the edges with a sharp knife and allow to cool. Store in an airtight tin and slice off pieces to serve with coffee as a petit four.
Tags:
Malouf
Greg
Lucy
Moorish
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