On my recent return from Morocco, my case was too full of presents and requests for friends (more on those later) to allow any space for my usual consignment of pastries and biscuits. But it’s hardly the done thing not to take some local sweet delicacies into work after a trip, so I thought I’d better learn how to make them myself. The cornes de gazelle weren’t nearly as difficult as I’d feared (although I managed to turn my Moroccan macaroons into teeth-breaking pebbles! Oops !)
This recipe is from ‘The Food of Morocco’ by Tess Mallos. The little crescent moon-shaped pastries are ubiquitous in Morocco and the ideal accompaniment to a glass of mint tea. The pastry is not at all sweet and the filling is a paste of marzipan-flavoured deliciousness.
Cornes de Gazelles ~ Kaab el ghzal ~ Gazelle’s Horns
300g plain flour
1 egg yolk
125ml cold water
30g melted butter
2 tbsp orange flower water (if you can’t find this, use a mix of water and 1 tsp vanilla essence)
300g ground almonds
90g icing sugar (plus extra to dust)
1 tbsp orange flower water (as before)
1 egg white
30g melted butter
½ teasp ground cinnamon
¼ teasp almond extract
1. Make the pastry by sifting the flour into a bowl and making a well in the centre. Beat the egg with the water and the orange water. Pour into the well in the flour with the melted butter and mix to a soft dough. Knead in the bowl for up 3-4 minutes to make a smooth, elastic dough. Divide in half, wrap each half in cling film and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180°C and make the filling. Mix all the filling ingredients to a stiff paste. Take 3 level teaspoons of the mix and roll in your hands into a log with tapered ends around 6-7cm long. Place on a sheet of baking paper and put aside.
3. To make up the pastries, first thinly roll out a half of the pastry on a lightly floured surface. Try to make a rectangle about 30x40cm. Place three almond lozenges along the short end about 5cm in from the edge and about 2.5cm apart. Lightly brush either side and between the almond shapes with water. Life and stretch the pastry over the lozenges and press down. Cut a semicircle around each one with a fluted pastry wheel (like mezzaluna pasta) and nick in the middle to make a crescent moon shape (with the join on the inside edge). Prick 4 times with a cocktail stick and lay on a lined baking tray. Cut a straight line along the edge of the pastry and repeat until you’ve used both halves of the dough (including the trimmings) and all the filling. It should make around 28 pieces.
4. Bake for 12-15 minutes until cooked but still pale. Transfer straight away to a wire cooling rack and dust with icing sugar. Should they last that long, store in an airtight container once cool.