I would love to claim that these amazing and beautiful cookies are Afghan, but I have to give proper credit and admit that they are Algerian. Algeria has the most delicious and beautiful cookies in the Middle East/North Africa region, these types of cookies are given in boxes for weddings and made for special occasions. Not only do they look beautiful but the cookies taste delicious, each one is like a sweet lemon almond baklava that melts in your mouth. My best friend is Algerian and I remember being amazed by these beautiful little cookies on her henna night, I thought they were just too pretty to taste good. On the morning of her wedding I remember waking up at her house next to a stack of these cookies in favor boxes. I couldnt help myself and tried one of the cookies. Once I discovered how delicious the cookies tasted, it didn’t take long for me to polish off all the cookies in the box without any consideration for the tight dress I had to squeeze myself into that day. Since then I have had the taste of these cookies in my mouth, the outside is slightly crunchy while the inside has a rich flavor similar to almond baklava but the texture is softer and more like a cookie. The hint of lemon gives the cookie a light fresh flavor overall. I just can’t compare the flavor to any other type of sweet I have eaten.
I feel that in a way these cookies represent Algerians as a people; Algeria is an Arab country that is heavily influenced by Middle Eastern and French culture. While the insides of the cookie leans toward traditional Middle Eastern sweet flavors, the design and beauty of the cookies are more French influenced and definitely the most beautiful sweets you will find in the entire middle-east. I believe that this fusion of cultures has produced these Algerian cookies which are incomparable in design and flavor.
When I got engaged I was adamant that I get these delicious cookies for my engagement party, luckily I found an incredibly talented Algerian family friend to make them for me for both my engagement party and a smaller bridal party. Interestingly because of baklava and halwa (semolina sweet) flavor of these cookies most of my family and friends thought they were just decorated Afghan sweets. Here are some pictures of the cookies I thought may be fun to share, especially because the colors and the light lemon flavor remind me so much of spring. I am still on the lookout for an easy to follow recipe especially for the Makrout El Louz and the baklava style where it’s crunchy on top and filled with almonds, if anyone has recipes to share!