Nofar Zohar's Babouche. Photo: courtesy of Nofar Zohar.
Nofar Zohar's Babouche. Photo: courtesy of Nofar Zohar.
Recipe

Babouche – Moroccan Sesame Slippers

Babouche - slippers in Moroccan - are tiny sinful sesame sweets made for Mimouna, of which any hostess is proud

Sesame sweets are a big deal on Mimouna; in the past, they were made from sesame and caramel that had been cooked to the exact degree where the caramel could be kneaded and shaped, just like clay or playdough. Designing the sweets before the caramel hardened required great skill, and the more complex these sesame sculptures were, the greater the cook’s pride. Today, sesame cookies are made from a dough similar to pâte brisée, which is much easier to shape, and to give them the same crispness as the original sweet they are deep fried.

The easiest and most widely known sesame cookie is babouche, so named because they look like Moroccan slippers: open at the heel and with a pointed toe. When I was little, I was told that sesame shoes symbolize the shoes of the head of the family, who should be thanked for the protection and sustenance he provides. It used to make me uncomfortable, but today I treat it with forgiveness, as a nostalgic relic of a world that is becoming more equal. And besides, my father has 7 daughters; at least in my family, it’s clear who wears the babouche.

Ingredients for Babouche

  • 1 cup (240 grams) water
  • 1 cup (200 grams) sunflower oil
  • 1⅔ tablespoons (20 grams) vanilla sugar (two packets)
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) Sugar
  • 4 teaspoons (20 grams) baking powder
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) butter or vegan butter, melted
  • 3 ½ cups + 1 tablespoon (500 grams) Sesame seeds
  • 3 ½ cups + 1 tablespoon (500 grams) flour
  • 1 egg white for the design

For the syrup:

  • 2 lbs 3.25 oz (1 kilogram) Sugar
  • 3 ½ cups (840 grams) water
  • 2 slices lemon
  • 1⅔ tablespoons (20 grams) vanilla sugar

Instructions

Prepare the dough:

  • 1. With a wooden spoon, mix together the water, oil, vanilla sugar, sugar, baking powder and butter or vegan butter until uniform. Add the sesame seeds and mix. Add the flour gradually, while kneading the dough by hand, until you get a flexible and easy-to-shape dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes.

  • 2. Divide the dough into 4 portions. Roll out a quarter of the dough into a 1/3" (1 cm) thick square and cut into 2" (5 cm) squares using a toothed pastry wheel. If there are any leftovers, collect, roll and cut them into squares. In the meantime, keep the rest of the dough covered with plastic wrap.

  • 3. Brush two opposite corners of the dough with some egg white and stick together, so that a small cone is formed. Place on a tray lined with parchment paper. Shape the rest of the dough in the same way.  

Prepare the sugar syrup:

  • 4. Bring all the syrup ingredients to a boil. Lower the heat and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, until thickened slightly.

Fry and serve:

  • 5. Heat oil for deep frying in a large, wide pot: if you have a thermometer, heat the oil to 320-340F (160-170C) degrees. If you don't, throw a small piece of dough in the oil; the oil should gently bubble around the dough.

  • 6. Fry the cookies in the hot oil, 10-12 at a time, for about 2 minutes, until they are golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a colander.

  • 7. Dip each cookie in the hot syrup for a few seconds, making sure it is coated with syrup on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a wire rack to drain. Serve or cool completely and store in an airtight box.

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