Dwaz Atay!

Moroccan Cookies and Cakes!
La Pâtisserie Marocaine, Petits-Fours et Gâteaux!

Dwaz Atay  /   دواز أتاي  

In Morocco, there are a variety of special cookies and biscuits, all are a wonderful luxury treat for any time!  Generally, these Moroccan cookies speak of home and are produced from natural ingredients, using no artificial colours or flavours and are served with hot fresh mint tea and this is why we call them in Morocco "Dwaz Atay" =  دواز أتاي  which means = Cookies that are accompanied by tea. Serving Moroccan tea with rich cookies is widely used throughout the whole Kingdom, and it could be after a meal, or after school, or for an afternoon tea, or simply for the fact it is the weekend, or for any occasion, either special or a family reunion.

You've been warned, this is the show-off territory in Moroccan Cuisine! Though most of home-made Dwaz Atay recipes are simple, however they are meant to make friends, guests and family members "Wowed" as soon as they take their first bite! So we absolutely want to impress everyone who tastes them, and this is the reason why an authentic Moroccan recipe will focus on the combination of  "Great flavour Taste" with "Great-Looking"!

In fact there is no limit to the Moroccan pastry, very talented women use their imagination, baking  expertise and effort to come up with new shape, filling, flavour variations and new creations on daily basis to satisfy their family members or their customers.  If you live in Morocco, you'll see how new flavoured and shaped Dwaz Atay could be discovered daily, obviously made by women or Pastry Chefs who take pride in using only the freshest and best quality ingredients.  So many talented Dwaz Atay makers and such wonderful flavour combinations!

Some say that "Cookies or Desserts or Cakes" are not "GOOD", and considered to be "unhealthy", some even believe they can live without them, but frankly, who would want to?  I do believe all cookies and cakes have something special about them which cheers us up and put a smile on our children's face, and this is quite enough for me to make these treats for my three lovely boys whenever I can.

Some Moroccan cookies (Especially Ghriba, Fekkas and Kaab el Ghazal (Cornes de gazelle), carry fond memories of a childhood weekends tea-time.  When my mother presented a plate of home-baked Dwaz Atay, we (my brothers and sisters) could stare at these goodies forever!  We would examine attentively those lovely cookies at length and at width to choose the biggest one! It was an agonizing choice, who would get the Big Top Ghriba or Corne de gazelle?  And I still  remember Summer days when Mum and I would amble around all the Souks  = السّوق  in our local town Casablanca, and often the sun would force us to retreat and seek shelter in some of our favourite Pastry Shops (called, Mahlaba in Moroccan language = محْلبة or Pâtisserie in French), then, Mum would ask me to choose our snack, and my choice was always the same : Four Kaab Ghzal (Cornes de gazelle), two Ghribas Bahla, and two large glasses of Rayb or Raib, (a very popular yoghurt in Morocco), flavoured with mint.  Then, we would go to the basement where there was a small Café for customers to enjoy our goodies, and the fresh smells of Almond/Orange Dwaz Atay, rising from the kitchen bakery above us, were such a delight to the senses, allowing my mind and body to relax, taking me to my dream world of my favourite childhood characters : "One Thousand and One Nights" and "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves".  Oh my, those smells could bring anyone from the whole Casablanca neighbourhood!

Baking ingredients used in Dwaz Atay:

1-Baking powder = "Khmirat Lhalwa" = خميرة الحلوة
This is a raising agent which is a mixture of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar.  If my recipe mention "1 spoon baking powder", please scrape the excess off the top of the spoon with a knife.  You must always respect the quantity used in the recipe, and try to measure accurately the baking powder or you will get disappointing results.

2-Flour = Thin or Farina or "D9i9" = الطحين -  فرينة  - الدقيق
You can use any type of flour you wish: plain flour, white flour, wheat flour, hard unbleached flour all puprose etc....

3-Butter = الزبدة
I do not recommend using margarine in my recipes, if you decide to give them a try.  I always use Oudi (Moroccan butter) or REAL butter, and sometimes a mixture of both, since they give better flavour than margarine.  I use unsalted butter which I mostly prefer using when making Dwaz Atay, but it is all down to personal taste and preference.

If my recipe indicates using "soft butter", please make sure that the butter is kept at room temperature before starting making the cookies.  "Soft butter" does not mean "Melted butter", and if you use melted butter in some of my recipes that require soft butter, this might cause Dwaz Atay to spread too much during baking and lose their shape.

4-Oil = الزيت
I use sunflower oil, and occasionally olive or argan or sesame oil if I want to add an extra spicy kick (but I use them only in small quantities). However; you can use vegetable oil or any variety with less or strong flavour, it is down to your personal taste.

5-Sugar =  السكر السنيدة
If I can, I prefer to use muscovado or molasses sugars (unrefined and more natural variety), if not I simply use caster or granulated sugar.

6- Warka (or Ouarka or Warqua) = ورقة
Warka is a very typical Moroccan thin pastry (Called sometimes Moroccan version of Filo), and which is widely used in several traditional dishes such as: Bastilla, Briwate, Mhansha, Jawhara etc.....  Warka looks like Filo (Phyllo) pastry and Brik (Brick) sheets (a Tunisian speciality), however Warka is much thinner, smoother, softer and tender. Unfortunately, it's not easy to find Warka outside Morocco, so I will not recommend to replace a Moroccan recipe, requiring the use of Warka with any other similar pastry as Filo or Bricks, since the resulting dish will have nothing in common with the authentic recipe.  This will be waste of your time, energy and money!

Not every one in Morocco knows how to make Warka, it is an extremely skilled task that only a few talented persons can make it. If you have the chance to visit Morocco, go to the Souks to watch and enjoy the techniques of the few skilled Warka makers!  I was told that the Warka dough is made of strong white flour known in Morocco as ("La Force" and pronounced : [L F O R S S E]), vinegar, pinch of salt, then water!  The dough should be well kneaded, same way as Sfenj dough, then allow it to rest for several hours or even overnight.

Actually, the most difficult part of making Warka is not the dough but the cooking technique, which is quite intimidating, mysterious and challenging! The Warka maker uses a domed heavy metal or bronze pans, which is heated over a Majmar (Canoun/Kanoun) or a small portable gas stove on a very low heat, then he takes a small portion of the slightly runny and sticky dough, then starts to tap it, gradually, on the hot pan 30 to 40 times in succession in a series of concentric circles or repetitive parallel movements, performed in a quick, accurate and perfect rhythmic pattern. After a few seconds, you can see a thin circle sheet being formed on the pan and this is what is called "Warka sheet". The Warka maker brushes immediately the thin sheet, while it is still warm.  It is just amazing how accurately, quickly, professionally and impressively Warka is made. Total Perfection process!

Most people now prefer to buy Warka ready-made from specialists instead of learning its complicated technique. If you buy Warka and once its packaging has been opened, it is important to keep Warka sheets at all times covered with a damp dish towel or others.  You also have to work as fast as possible since Warka dries out quickly if exposed too long to the air.

Here is two videos posted on YouTube, and which show how Warka is made.

7-Spices =  العطرية
Some spices are usually added to the dough for more flavour such as cinnamon (ground or sticks), ginger, gum arabic (Maska Horra), cumin seeds, and nutmeg (ground or grated), which are a fiery spice mix, and are the key ingredients in Moroccan sweets.

Cinnamon (ground and sticks)

Gum arabic (Maska Horra)
In some Asian countries, it is called Babul Goond


Almonds and Almond Paste they are the most commonly used nuts in Morocco and where would Moroccan pastry be without them? The almonds, either whole or sliced or toasted or fried or ground with skin on, or blanched, are a staple in Moroccan dishes, as well as dessert pastes.

Peanuts : are also widely used in cookies and other desserts. Some recipes call for skinless raw peanuts, and if you cannot find them, simply buy ones with skin on, then bake them in the oven at medium temperature for about 7 to 10 minutes until they start popping.  Remove them from the oven, and place them in a kitchen towel, then cover them and start rubbing them vigorously to remove the skin.

Use those two nuts either whole, chopped or ground as stated in my recipe, but you can choose the variety of nuts you prefer. Try to use nuts which are more commercially available in your place and which you like most.  In Morocco, we generally use almonds and peanuts because they are available through out the year, provided fresh any time with the lowest prices, compared to other nuts as pistachio which can be very expensive.

Almond Paste

Blanched Ground Almonds

Roasted Almonds With Skin

Amlou or Amloo Mixed With Chopped Almonds With Skin


9-Oranges (Called in Moroccan darija اللِّيمون and in classic Arabic  البرتقال)
In Moroccan Cuisine, oranges feature prominently in salads, Dwaz Atay, cakes, desserts, drinks, and some chicken dishes. Due to its delectable taste, oranges, including its peel, zest  juice and fragrance, are widely used in cooking various types of dishes and orange recipes are quite popular in Morocco.

9.1. Freshly squeezed orange juice, served for breakfast, along with French croissant and mint tea or French Coffee is very popular in Morocco, and the fresh orange juice is abundant on the street, Souks, and super-markets.

9.2. Orange zest is often used to add flavour to different Dwaz Atay and other treats, such as Ghriba, Kaâk, Almond or Date paste, Fekkas, Meskouta etc... They are also added to sour dishes as "Orange Chicken", a very traditional sweet/sour dish with a delicious sweet and tangy sauce.

9.3. As for the fragrant flavour of oranges, it is used to spice up everything from salads, Dwaz Atay,  and cakes to drinks.

9.4. Orange peels are used, especially for seasoning, desserts or dish accents. Peels are also dried to make orange powder, which could be used as natural fruit food colouring.  It is so amazing how something as bitter as orange peel can be used to flavour so many dishes.

9.5. Oranges are also commonly eaten raw as a dessert after a meal.

10-Salt: I use finely ground sea salt : الملحة

11-Eggs: With no doubt, for me when it comes to choosing eggs, they have to be free-range.  Happy hens, happy eggs. In all my recipes, I always use medium eggs (about 61 gr). البيظ

Tools and kitchen equipment used in Dwaz Atay:

In fact, you do not need anything complicated and expensive for baking Moroccan cookies or cakes.  Just an oven, a measuring jug, measuring spoons, baking sheets (For certain cookies, it is preferable to use a  Ghriba mold, but it is not a MUST, wire rack and a big bowl or Kassriya for mixing.

1-Oven: It is important to preheat the oven before baking any cookies, otherwise it will not be properly cooked in the time stated in the recipe. It is obvious that every oven is different and has its own special foibles.  Some cook slightly quicker and some slightly slower.

Two or more trays of cookies can be placed on the same rack in the oven and baked at the same time, provided that there is enough space between them to allow proper heat circulation.  You can also bake two pans on two different racks at once, moving pans from one rack to another during baking. Obviously, the pan on the lower rack will brown more quickly on the underside while the pan on the higher rack will brown more quickly on the top. After 10 or 15 minutes of baking, you can certainly move the pan which is on the bottom rack to the centre rack to finish baking and vice versa.  If you don't have a fan oven, you can also try to rotate the sheets half-way through the baking process, so the cookies will bake evenly, preventing half of your cookies from browning too much than the other half.

2-Cooking Time: Don't worry if you need to bake a few minutes less or longer than my recipe states.  I have a big fan-forced oven which can bake about 3 trays of cookies at a time without the need to alternate shelf positions.  It is up to you to choose the best way for baking your cookies in your own oven and it depends on type of the oven you have.

There is no such accurate and exact baking time for cookies.  All these recipes, I am posting and I will be posting in the future about Moroccan Dwaz Atay, are all tested in my own oven, so baking time in my recipes are a guide only.  It might take you 20 minutes to cook a cookie which took me 15 minutes only, so here, using the common sense is the key.  However, generally speaking, all cookies are soft in the oven and become firmer when cold (Except for Ghriba which should stay soft), so to make sure it is cooked, push very GENTLY with your finger on top of a cookie and if you can touch it gently without breaking it, so it is normally cooked.

3- A hemisphere Ghriba Mold: To bake Ghriba Bahla, generally a special mold is used (see picture below), and which you don't need to grease or dust with flour. It is a sort of Hemisphere Mold and you place the uncooked dough balls at the top and it helps to give to Ghriba L'bahla this plump cracked lovely look.  This mold is not expensive, if you want to buy one, it costs about 40Dh, which is £British Pound Sterling (GBP)" or "3.5 Euro", or "$ 5 US Dollar".

4-Baking sheets: If you don't have that special Ghriba mold, use any baking sheets, that should be rigid and sturdy, so they don't buckle in the heat.  It is also important to use trays with no or very shallow sides, this will allow the heat to circulate freely.  It is recommended in all my recipes to use baking paper, but if you prefer to grease your baking sheets, don't over-grease them, since this can cause the cookies to burn on the bottom.

5-Wire rack: Necessary for cooling your cookies.

6-Fluted Pastry Wheel : If this is known as a "Jagger" in UK, in Morocco, it is known as "Jrrara" = جْرّارَة

Traditionally, it is used to cut the dough of Kaab el Ghazal and Chabakiya or Mkharqua and other dough for filled pastries.  It creates a fluted edge to give baked cookies a neat finish and a nice edge.

7-Crimper : Mangach or Mangash = مْنْكاشْ
(Arabic does not have equivalent letter and sound to the Imazighen and Moroccan Dialect letter "G", so " ك " is used instead)
They come in variety different shapes and sizes, allowing to make different patterns.

8-How to store Dwaz Atay:

I bet a delicious well-made Dwaz Atay will not hang around for a long time, but it can be stored in a biscuit tin with a tight lid for several days.

Below is a list of my Dwaz Atay Recipes, hope you enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by my site! 


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