Makes about 30
These sweet, delicate, melt-in-the-mouth biscuits were a speciality of Aznif, the kitchen doyenne of The Yerevan restaurant, who served them with pieces of halva and rose-scented Turkish delight. I never worked up the nerve to ask her if those were homemade also. Dainty cups of sweet, muddy, cardamom-infused Arabic coffee and scurrilous conversation were the only other accompaniments necessary.
- 450 g unsalted butter
- 225 g icing sugar, sifted
- 450 g plain flour
- 1 pinch of ground black pepper
- Blanched almonds to decorate
- Preheat the oven to 160°C / 320°F / gas mark 3.
- First, clarify the butter. Melt it over a low heat, taking care not to let it brown. Skim off any froth, and then carefully pour the clear, yellow butter into a bowl, leaving the white residue behind. Refrigerate until solid.
- Put the solidified butter into the bowl of your mixer and beat until creamy.
- Add the sifted icing sugar a little at a time until it is fully incorporated.
- Add the flour and the black pepper a little at a time, beating continuously until a fairly stiff dough has formed.
- Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and knead well on a floured surface until smooth and pliable.
- Put the dough back into the mixing bowl, cover and refrigerate for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the fridge, take a rounded tablespoon of the mixture and roll it into a sausage shape about 12 – 15 cm long.
- Join the ends to make a ring and cover the joint with a blanched almond. Repeat until all of the dough is used.
- Place the ghorayeba on a lightly greased baking tray and bake for about 20 minutes. They should not be brown like biscuits, but very pale — almost cream — in colour, with the almonds just beginning to turn golden.
- Serve with strong, sweet Arabic coffee and, if you want to go the whole hog, accompany them with cubes of halva, pieces of rose-flavoured Turkish delight and Medjool dates.
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