Yesterday was the first day of Eid celebrations for muslims around the world, marking the end of the month of Ramadan. During Eid, we prepare some sweets that we share with our families, friends and neighbors. We also buy new clothes for children and give them money, whilst women put henna on their hands.
This year, I opted for an inviting Algerian pastry called Tcharek M’saker (Algerian Gazelle Horns). They are filled with almond paste, dipped in orange blossom water and then coated with icing sugar. These sweets always remind me of Eid in Algiers at my grandmother’s house, preparing different kinds of pastries, I was always the little helper. The eve of Eid was always my favorite part; a kitchen filled with divine smells and lots of laughter. I really miss those days.
Tcharek means crescent in Algerian dialect, and M’saker means coated with sugar in Arabic.
For the dough:
- 300g of all purpose flour/plain flour
- 150g of ghee or melted butter
- 100ml of water and orange blossom water mix (50ml each, mixed together)
- Pinch of salt
- 8g vanilla sugar
For the filling:
- 300g of almond powder
- 150g of caster sugar
- Pinch of cinnamon powder
- 1tsp of soft butter
- Orange blossom water
Method for the dough:
- In a large bowl, add the flour, the vanilla sugar, the salt and the ghee.
- Start mixing all the ingredients together.
- Slowly pour water+orange blossom water mix and continue to mix until you form a soft dough.
- Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
For the filling:
- In a shallow bowl, add the almond powder, the sugar, the soft butter and the cinnamon.
- Mix the ingredients with your fingers.
- Add slowly the orange blossom water (spoon by spoon).
- Mix until you obtain a paste.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Remove from the refrigerator and roll small balls (12 grams each).
- Proceed the same way for the rest of the dough.
- Roll each small ball into a small log of 10 centimeters and set aside.
Method for the Gazelle Horns:
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Flour a clean surface.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator.
- Flatten the dough with a rolling pin (very thin).
- Make circle with a round cookie cutter (12 centimeters).
- Place the stuffing on the edge of the circle.
- Roll with your fingers to make a log, and then bend the sides to make the shape of a crescent (the edges should be thin, see as the picture).
- Proceed the same way with all the circles.
- Bake at 180C degrees for 30 minutes or until the bottom is gold.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Method for the coating:
- In a large bowl add 500ml of orange blossom water.
- Dip each crescent into the orange blossom water and put them into a colander.
- Proceed the same way for all the crescents.
- In another bowl add icing sugar.
- Coat each crescent into the icing sugar.
- Repeat this procedure two times for a nice coating (wait one hour between the two coatings).
Serve these succulent pastries with coffee or a fragrant mint tea.