M’hanncha is also known as snake cake and it is made of rolled phyllo pastry that has been coiled into a serpent shape. Every meal in Morocco is a special occasion, and almond-paste sweets are always on the table. The orange-flower water and cinnamon flavorings are distinctly North African, revealing the region’s Persian influences.
What is Mhanncha
M’hanncha is a traditional Moroccan dessert in which a delicious almond paste is filled into warqa pastry and then shaped into a snake-like shape. Almond paste is typically made with almonds, sugar, cinnamon, mastic powder, butter, and orange flower water, though there are many different recipes for it.
How To Prepare Mhanncha
M’hanncha can be shaped into small coils, but it is usually made in a large version for social gatherings and festive occasions so that guests can break off smaller portions from the end of the coil. The pastry is frequently dusted with powdered sugar or brushed with warm honey after baking. The snake cake should be topped with sliced or ground almonds and served with a cup of sweet mint tea.
- 8 sheets of Filo Pastry
- 4 TBS Butter melted
- 1 Egg beaten
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- Powdered Sugar for dusting
For the almond paste
- 4 TBS Butter melted
- 2 cups Ground Almonds
- 1/2 tsp Almond Essence or extract
- 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
- 1 Egg Yolk beaten
- 1 TBS Rose Water optional
- First make the almond paste. Blend the melted butter with the ground almonds and almond essence. Add the sugar, egg yolk, and rose water if using, mix well and knead until soft and pliable. Chill for about 10 minutes.
- Bread the almond paste into 10 even-sized balls and roll them into 4in ‘sausages’. Chill again.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place two sheets of filo pastry on the work surface so that they overlap to form a 7 x 22 inch rectangle. Brush the overlapping pastry to secure and then brush all over with the butter. Cover with another two sheets of filo and brush again with the butter.
- Place five ‘sausages’ of almond paste along the lower edge of the filo sheet and roll the pastry tightly, tucking in the ends. Shape the roll into a loose coil. Repeat with the remaining filo and almond paste, so that you have two coils.
- Brush a large baking sheet with butter and place the coils together to make a ‘snake’.
- Beat the egg and half of the cinnamon. Brush over the pastry snake and then bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Carefully invert the snake onto another baking sheet and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes until golden.