Moroccan Almond Pastries - M'hanncha Cake

Moroccan Almond Pastries – M’hanncha Cake
M’hanncha (snake) is a traditional dessert from Morocco made of rolled filo pastry stuffed with almond frangipane infused with exotic flavors and coiled like a serpent. This snake cake can be made in very large sizes and served at different gatherings but also in smaller and individual portions. M’hanncha Cake is very tasty and delicate dessert, with a perfect texture, crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. Also the flavors are in perfect balance with the texture, so as a conclusion: it’s a treat that you should not miss; you won’t regret it! 🙂
The ingredients below are for 2 medium cakes.



Ingredients for M’hanncha Cake:

100 g almond meal
1 egg
100 g butter, room temperature
100 g icing sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 tablespoon rosewater
few dried rose petals (optional)
lemon and orange zest
4 large sheets of fresh filo pastry
few pistachios, crushed
For Assembling the Pastry:
butter, melted
egg wash ( 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)

To serve M’hanncha Cake:

icing sugar, for dusting
dried rose petals (optional)
few pistachios, crushed

How to make M’hanncha cake:

  • First make the almond paste (or frangipane): in a medium bowl, combine the soft butter, almond meal, icing sugar, egg and flour and stir well until all the ingredients are incorporated. Add in the rose water and lemon zest and stir again. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 160º C and lightly grease a baking sheet with a bit of the melted butter or line it with parchment paper.
  • Open the filo package and carefully remove the sheets. Cut them half along the widest edge. Very important: before you use the sheets, cover them with parchment paper (or cling film) and then with a damp kitchen towel to prevent from drying out and cracking. The filo pastry is very thin and delicate and it brakes and dries out easily.

Assemble M’hanncha cake:

  • Remove one filo sheet from underneath the damp towel making sure to cover the rest up again until you’ll take out the next one. Lay the filo sheet on your work surface and lightly brush the entire surface up with the melted butter. Place another sheet of filo pastry overlapping the first one (5 cm or less), brush with butter and repeat, until you have four buttered sheets.
  • Spoon the almond paste in a straight line near the longest edge of the filo pastry. Sprinkle some crushed pistachios over the almond paste.  Also sprinkle few dried rose petals over the  uncovered area of the filo sheets. Then, begin to roll up the pastry, until you have a long, thin roll of pastry. Fold over the ends and brush with a bit of melted butter to seal them. Shape the thin and long roll into a small, tight coil. Repeat the procedure with the remaining filo sheets.
  • Transfer the rolled pastry to your prepared baking sheet. Brush the top and sides with melted butter, then brush with the egg wash.
  • Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for aprox. 30-45 minutes or until golden brown. When ready, remove the cakes from the oven, and let them cool on the baking sheet.

Serve M’hanncha Cake:

  • Dust the cake with a bit of icing sugar, then top with crushed pistachio and rose petals. Alternatively,  you can drizzle some warm honey over the top of the pastry and then garnish with sliced almonds. Either way it’s extremely tasty.
  • Enjoy!
See other desserts here and check out this youtube video of Jamie Oliver making a huge M’hanncha!


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