I'm beginning to believe that I was born in the right place and on the right time, because I would have starved if I was born any earlier when sweets and cookies were a luxury! Blogging about food brings a lot of my childhood memories, and this post is one of them. My children always ask me what is in a dessert I am about to serve, but they never ask me how it got its name and frankly they don't care as long as it tastes good. The origins of cookies/sweets in Kingdom of Morocco are as interesting as the sweets themselves, and this is one special 60s/80s cookies, which deserves food blog attention.
I learned to make these cookies, called in Morocco “Halwat L'Ghoraf” or “ Halwat Guigoz” =حلوة الغراف , from my mum and my older sister. I remember these cookies made regular appearances on our table throughout the whole year, and from the 60s to 80s, Halwat L'Ghoraf seemed to be the big thing! What kids and teenagers would like to have, if asked for a snack? Of course Halwat L' Ghoraf, yes, I speak from experience. When served on a plate with Moroccan tea, these could be decadent and addictive, I mean, I could have inhaled the whole plate by myself. I unabashedly adored Halwat L'Ghoraf, it has a great mild sweet flavour and crunchy texture, the perfect consistency with a little bit caramely outside due to the icing sugar sprinkled on top. Two decades later, sadly, these cookies would disappear from Moroccan tables, and I truly missed them, sigh!
These cookies were actually an invention originating in Casablanca and then spread all over the Kingdom. The cookies got their name from the fact that they were fried in an infant milk tin box, which were very popular in Morocco in 60s, under the name of Guigoz, a brand launched in France after 1st world war about 1921, in order to decrease the malnutrition problems among newborn babies. I remember these milk tin boxes were in every household, and were reused to make Halwat L'Ghoraf. Why Guigoz tin? simply because the tin was taller and thinner than the other types of infant milk tins available in the market at that time, the tin was the perfect size to make these cookies. Guigoz packaging had changed over the years, and the tall thin boxes were replaced by larger ones, and gradually our old Guigoz tin box will disappear, as well as Halwat L'Ghoraf.
The Guigoz tin could have been replaced by other types of moulds to make these cookies, but in the 90s, baked sophisticated almond cookies became more fashionable, and sadly Halwat L'Ghoraf was looked at as old-fashioned cheap cookie, a simple dough fried in oil and coated with icing sugar, Grrr! Some snobbish cook would call them "diabetes and heart-attack on a plate", and they would demonize them because they were fried. I didn't care, I never wanted to eat a healthy dessert anyway, I just loved my mum's sweets and wished badly old Guigos' milk tin came back.
Yes, finally Halwat L'Ghoraf is back, at least on my table! I recently bought on eBay an antique Guigoz milk tin dating back to the 60s, and here I am once again, reconciled with my lovely childhood cookies, and nothing will stop me making them, nor police food, nor snobbish diet cooks, nor even Guigoz's Processing and Packaging Department ...