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M’Hanncha (African) October 20, 2010

Posted by lauracap in Recipes.
Tags: , , , , ,

The snake, or M’Hanncha to use the Arabic name, is the most famous sweet dish in Morocco. The coiled pastry looks impressive and tastes superb. Crisp, buttery filo is filled with almond paste that has been spiced with cinnamon and scented with orange flower water. Serve M’Hanncha as a dessert or afternoon treat with mint tea.

Serves Eight to Ten


  • 115g blanched almonds
  • 115g butter, softened, plus 20g for cooking nuts
  • 300g ground almonds
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 115g castor sugar
  • 1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp orange flower water
  • 3-4 sheets filo pastry
  • Melted butter for brushing
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Icing sugar and ground cinnamon for topping


  1. Fry the blanched almonds in a little butter until golden brown, then pound them using a pestle and mortar until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs
  2. Place the nuts in a bowl and add the ground almonds, icing sugar, castor sugar, softened butter, cinnamon and orange flower water. Use your hands to form the mixture into a smooth paste, cover and chill for 30 minutes
  3. Preheat the over to 180 degrees Celsius, grease a large, round baking tin (pan) or a wide baking sheet
  4. Open out the sheets of filo pastry, keeping them in a pile so they don’t dry out, and brush the top one with a little melted butter
  5. Lift one of the filo rolls in both hands and push it together from both ends, like an accordion, to relax the pastry before coiling it in the centre of the tin or baking sheet. Do the same with the other rolls, placing them end to end to form a tight coil like a snake
  6. Take lumps of the almond paste and roll them into your fingers. Place them end to end along the long edge of the top sheet of filo, then roll the filo up into a roll the thickness of your thumb, tacking in the ends to stop the filling oozing out
  7. Repeat this with the other sheets of filo, until the all the sheets are used up
  8. Mix the egg yolk with a little water and brush this over the pastry, then bake in the over for 30-35 minutes until crisp and lightly browned
  9. Top the freshly cooked pastry with a liberal sprinkle of icing sugar, and add lines of cinnamon like the spokes of a wheel. Serve at room temperature.


1. African « Melbourne Recipe Club - October 20, 2010

[…] … and then an almond pastry. […]

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