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Mini Mhanchas (محنشة صغيرة)

Well, wasn't that just the quickest Ramadan ever? It literally flew right by us. While I am quite sad to see it gone so quick, I gotta say, I'm looking forward to getting back into my old sleeping habits. Going to sleep at 5 am and waking up at 3 pm was really messing with me. Too much sleep can definitely be a bad thing, starting with how considerably lazy it makes you.

But lazy days are over lovelies, and I'm going to get myself back into the swing of things. Today, we're doing things a bit different though. I've got a step by step photo tutorial for y'all that me and my mama put together for these mini mhanchas.

If you're wondering how to pronounce the second word, it goes like this: m-heavy h-anshas. When I say heavy h, I mean, try to imagine you're exhaling a strong and deep breath. Haaaaaa. Haaaat. Got it? Okay you might not get it right away, Arabic consonants are a bit difficult for non-native speakers. But you've got lots of time to practice.

So anyways, this is sort of a ghetto twist on mhancha because originally, mhancha is filled with a ground almond mixture. The mixture is rolled into a log and placed on a phyllo sheet; then the sheet is rolled over the mixture and then rolled around itself to form a spiral, or coil. What we did is we rolled the phyllo sheet around itself first, as demonstrated above and below.

Then we poured some melted butter (about 6 tablespoons) on the coils and sprinkled the almond mixture on top. If you haven't already guessed based on the ingredients, mhancha is an Algerian pastry. And I don't know if it's an Algerian thing or not, but my mom does not use exact measurements for anything she makes. She just throws it all together approximately. Therefore, I don’t have an exact recipe for the mixture we used on top--but according to my mama, she used approximately ½ a cup of coarsely ground blanched almonds, two tablespoons sugar, a few dashes of cinnamon, and a sprinkle of orange blossom water.

My mama doesn’t go by exact baking or cooking times either. So, just bake these at 350 degrees on the middle rack of the oven until their bottoms get brown, then transfer them to the top rack and bake until their tops turn a lovely shade of light golden brown. Once you take them out of the oven, you douse them in a simple syrup...that you're supposed to make while they're baking so it can be ready.

Again according to mama, she boiled approximately 1/2 cup of water with 1/2 cup of sugar for a few minutes, then added a few tablespoons of honey, and a sprinkle of orange blossom water. You can always make/add more syrup if you feel that the pastries are not soaked enough, as that's what we ended up doing.

I enjoyed these quite a bit, especially when they were warm. They're very reminiscent of baklawa and I LOVE baklawa. I'm pretty sure I ate half the pan my mom made for Eid this weekend. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this little photo tutorial and that you'll be adding these to your to-bake list. Make sure you check back here in a few days because I've got another tutorial in the works and it's gonna be good! :)

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