Kaak Warka are nothing short of edible perfection — heavenly little bite-size donut-shaped treats that are stuffed with a number of delicious savory ingredients such as marzipan, a concentrated Tunisian-style almond paste with rose water.
Tunisian Kaak Warka
Kaak Warka originate from the region of Zaghouan, but are also popular throughout Tunisia, both as a snack, usually served with tea or coffee, and common sweets.
The story goes that when Andalusians were forced out of southern Spain in the 17th century, they baked their precious jewels in simple looking dough to hide them from would-be plunderers. Andalusian families did in fact settle in Zaghouan and several other places around Tunisia. Later generations in Zaghouan honored their ancestors’ journey with the sweet pastry Kaak Warka. Now they use almond paste to represent the hidden jewels in the dough.
Nutritious and filling, they make a satisfying treat any time of day. They are traditionally offered during weddings and other big celebratory occasions, Kaak Wark is a staple in the Tunisian pastry catalog. The perfect way to express happiness and gratitude, Kaak Warka instantly melts in the mouth.
Kaak Warka are tasty, but it is their notable place in Tunisian culture that truly sets them apart. Similar to other Tunisian sweets, known as Hlou aarbi, Kaak Warka are reserved for occasions where the host wants to show special honor to guests. This could be at wedding ceremonies or family gatherings. Hosts might serve them to friends or family whom they haven’t seen in a while. The small pastries, bearing the weight of history, heritage, and tradition, help proclaim the bold message, “This visit is important – you are important.”
INGREDIENTS: (10 Pieces)
- 250g white plain flour
- 100g butter, soften at room temperature
- Water, as needed
- 125g ground almonds
- 50g icing sugar
- Three spoons of rose water (preferably homemade)
Start by making the marzipan
- In a bowl, put the ground almonds and the icing sugar. Add two spoons of water and stir, then tip it onto the worktop and knead. Add the third spoon of rose water or water if the rose water you are using has a strong flavor. Knead the marzipan until all the ingredients are incorporated. Leave on a side
- Make the pastry dough by tossing in the butter cut in cubes on top of the flour. Rub the butter in the hands until it resembles breadcrumbs. As before, tip the ingredients on the worktop and start incorporating the butter in the flour. Add water gradually, until the dough is easy to work with, but not too wet
Pre-heat the oven at 140C
- While the oven is getting warm, roll the pastry thinly on the slightly floured worktop. You can use the 2mm adjustment for the rolling pin. Cut a strip of dough of approximately 10 cm. Weight in the marzipan and divide it in 10 equal parts. Roll one part of the marzipan in a sausage that is a bit shorter than 10 cm long
- Put that marzipan sausage on top of the strip of dough. Make sure the marzipan is placed a bit over one side of the dough
- Roll the dough with the marzipan in it and cut it to size. Gently press the two parts until they stuck to each other. Then, keep a finger on a side, at the middle of the rolled dough and create the round doughnut shape
- Overlap the excess dough over the marzipan that is sticking out the other side. Now press gently so the two sides are stuck to each other. Repeat until you make all the cookies
- Put the cookies on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Place the baking tray in the oven and leave it to bake for 30 to 40 minutes. The low heat means that the cookies will not change their colour. They have to remain as white as possible. As you can see in the next picture, the cookies are baked, but still white and lovely
- When they are baked, take them out of the oven and put them on a cooling rack
Happy cooking (or should I say baking)!
Check out more Tunisian Recipes.
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