This popular Moroccan recipe is simply divine. The name Um'hanncha translate's to "Coiled like a snake" and it will fly off of your dessert table faster than a snake I guarantee. The traditional filling is made of Almond paste scented with orange blossom water and spiced with cinnamon powder. I created my own version of M'hanncha using a traditional baklava filling with turned out amazing I must say. Drizzle or drench with honey and decorate with chopped toasted nuts or slivered almonds. M'hanncha can also be served with powder sugar but prefer to serve mine with honey. Cut the M'hanncha with a sarrated knife and serve warm or at room temperature. The pictures you see on this post is what was left of the M'hanncha I served my guest, it was much bigger before.
9 sheets phillo dough (double the amount if you're making both recipes)
1/2 cup melted butter
orange blossom water
Toated chopped nuts to decorate
2 cups blanched almonds
1 tablespoon butter (room temperature)
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/3 cup icing sugar (powder sugar) or more to taste.
Add all of your ingredients into a food processor and process until a smooth paste forms. If the mixture is taking a while to form into a paste, uncover the food processor and mix the almonds with a fork and process again until a smooth paste is formed. Roll the paste into 9 equal sized balls and roll into logs, approximately 4 to 5 inches long. Set aside.
Walnut, Almond, and hazelnut stuffing
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoon clear thick honey
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
1 3/4 cups blanched almonds
1 3/4 cups walnuts (toasted)
3/4 cup hazelnuts
Add 2/3 of your nut mixture into the food processor and process until a fine mixture is formed (it wont be a paste). Pulse the remainder of your nuts until bread crumb size nuts form, mix both together in a large bowl. Set aside. Place the lemon juice, honey, and sugar in a pan and heat gently, stirring continuously until the sugar has completely dissolved. Stir in the cinnamon and nuts and stirr to combine. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to come to room temperature.
How to assemble the pastry
Place 1 sheet of phyllo dough on a clean surface and brush with butter, add two more sheets brushing each time with butter. Place 3 logs on the edge of the pastry nearest to you and roll the pastry up tightly, sealing the edges. Repeat the process with the remainder of phyllo dough and almond logs. Coil the first log into a spiral and continue with the 2 rolls until a snake like pastry is formed. If your pastry tears, seal with a piece of leftover phyllo dough and brush with butter. Place on a buttered round baking dish and brush the entire snake with melted butter. Bake in a 350*F preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes or until golden in color. Cool slightly and drizzle with warm honey and scented water mix. If you're making an almond filled M'hanncha mix the honey with orange blossom water to taste and heat over medium heat.
Mixed nut filling
Place 1 sheet of phyllo dough on a clean surface and brush with butter, add two more sheets brushing each time with butter. Hand form a log using 1/3 of your nut mixture 2 inches from the edge of pastry nearest to you and fold over pressing tightly, roll the pastry tightly to form a log. Continue with the remainder of pastry and nut filling. Coil each log around each other closing the edges tightly until a snake like coil spiral is formed. Place onto a buttered round pan and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until golden in color. Cool slightly before you add a honey mixture. Mixed nut M'hanncha goes well with rose water scented honey and sprinkled with chopped nuts.
Note, you can either drizzle the spirals with honey or drench. If you would rather cover with powder sugar, allow the M'hanncha to cool completely before dusting. Adding honey to the M'hanncha with start to lift up the pastry sheets, so if you're not serving on the same day and would like to have a flawless presentation, do not cover with honey until the day you're serving the M'hanncha. Warm the M'hanncha for a couple of minutes under low broil before covering with honey.
After my experience baking with phyllo dough, I find that Middle Eastern phyllo is much thicker than American Phyllo dough, if you're using Middle Eastern sold dough, you can use 2 sheets of Phyllo per log and cut the dough into a 17 by 12 inch rectangle.