Cornes de gazelle/Tcharek cookies
The holiday season is in full swing and you might find yourself empty-handed at a party this month. Fear not- we have just the perfect hostess gift and it's something more exciting than typical flowers!
Give these cookies to any of your favorite people and watch as their faces light up in delight as they take a bite into the flaky, sweet, aromatic treats. The tiny explosion of snowy powdered sugar that follows each bite is an added bonus.
In Arabic, they are known as Ka'b el ghazal, meaning gazelle's ankle. Somehow, this got translated to French as cornes de gazelle (gazelle horns), which they are commonly known as in Tunisia. Move a little further west however, into Algeria, and you would get yet another name: tcharek. All we know is that whatever you call these cookies, they are elegant in looks and satisfying in taste.
The cornes de gazelle experience in a nutshell (close your eyes and imagine the following): You bring the delicate white cookie towards your mouth. Just before it reaches your lips and you open up to take a bite, a light puff of your breath scatters the fluffy powdered sugar into a billowy white cloud in front of you, settling like little snowflakes on the tip of your nose. As you sink your teeth into the cookie, you first contact a flaky, buttery shell that crumbles heavenly onto your tongue followed by a tender, sweet, nutty, fragrant filling that melts in your mouth.....
.....Need we say more?
LES CORNES DE GAZELLE (TCHAREK) RECIPE
For the dough:
1 1/2 cups of flour
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup orange blossom water
1/4 cup water
zest of half a lemon
For the filling:
2 cups almond flour or finely ground almonds
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp powdered sugar
2 pinches or 1/4 tsp cinnamon
2-4 tbsp orange blossom water
For the outside coating:
2-3 tbsp orange blossom water or simple syrup
1 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a mixing bowl, add the flour, melted butter, lemon zest, water, and orange blossom water. Mix these together with a whisk, wooden spoon, kitchen aid with dough attachment, or clean hands. Kneed the mixture until you get a soft smooth dough. Roll into a ball and set aside in the bowl to rest for 20-30 minutes while you make the filling.
In another bowl, add the almond flour, powdered sugar, cinnamon, lemon zest, and orange blossom water. Mix together to form a ball.
*Note: the amount of orange blossom water needed for the filling may vary. Start with one or two tablespoons and mix. If the mixture is still dry, add more a tablespoon at a time until the mixture is moist and coherent and easily sticks together to form a ball--similar to a paste consistency.
To shape the cookies, roll out the dough out into a nice thin layer, but not too thin (about 1/8th of an inch). Using a circle cookie cutter or a cup, cut out evenly sized circles.
*Note: If your dough springs back when rolling it out, it needs to rest longer.
Take about a tablespoon of the almond filling, roll into a ball then roll into a log shape. Place it at one end of the dough circle and roll it closed, completely encasing the filling. Using your hands and fingers, gently shape the roll into a crescent, or horn shape, keeping the middle full and the ends thinner. Trim any excess as needed and place on your cookie sheet about once inch apart.
*Note: There are several methods to shaping these beautiful cookies. We recommend watching one of the many videos available online especially if this is your first time baking them. We hope to have an original Our Tunisian Table video available for you soon!
Bake for 30-40 minutes.
*Note: Baking time will depend on individual ovens and the size of cookies made. Check cookies after about 25 minutes and every 5 minutes from there. You want the dough to be completely cooked, hard, and flaky, and lightly browned on the bottom.
Once the cookies are baked, remove them from the baking sheet, dip them in orange blossom water (or simple syrup) and place on a cooling rack.
Sift 1 cup of powdered sugar in a wide bowl.
Roll each cookie in the powdered sugar until fully covered, place on your serving dish, and enjoy!