M’Hanncha with Date Sauce…. Oh Yeah and Rose Petals….

By Simon  ,   ,

July 1, 2014

I love the colours and fragrances of a beautiful exotic English rose and as soon as I discovered I could eat them, well that was it, my curiosity got the better of me, - what could I make, cook with them? the colours are amazing, so here it is - a traditional Moroccan dessert, its like a giant baked snake... Crispy filo pastry encasing a sweet almond, pistachio and rose sticky cakey filling. Absolutely dramatic, vibrant and alive as it adorns your kitchen table, so give it a go, oh yea, I forgot it's fun too, thank you English rose.....

  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 40 mins
  • Yields: 6 Generous


375 Grams Butter

375 Grams Icing sugar

3 Medium Eggs

375 Grams Ground almonds

1 Heaped tbsp Plain flour

1 Medium Lemon

1 Medium Orange

70 Grams Pistachios

4 tbsp Rose water

10 Medium Filo pastry sheets

1 Handful Rose petals

160 Grams Dates

500 ml Orange juice

Splash Use the juice from the zested orange and lemon too

Heaped tbsp Vanilla ice cream or natural yogurt

1 Scattering Rose petals


M’hanncha is also known as ‘snake pie’ for fairly obvious reasons.  It looks amazing served straight to the table, adorned with fresh petals and a dusting of icing sugar.  A giant wheel of  almond, pistachio and rose, encased in a crisp filo pastry.

Cream together 375g each of butter and icing sugar until thoroughly combined, then carefully beat in three large eggs, one at a time.  The mixture may look a little curdled, this is perfectly fine.

Carry on mixing gently, and add four tablespoons of rose water, a heaped tablespoon of plain flour, the ground almonds and the zest of a lemon and an orange. As a last flourish, mix in 50g of roughly crushed pistachio nuts.

Next, the assembly line.

Lay out nine sheets of filo pastry on a clean surface, short side towards the edge, so that they overlap by about four or five centimetres. Keep an extra sheet in reserve for running repairs.

Carefully spoon the almond mixture along the length of the pastry, scatter with rose petals leaving about eight or ten centimetres from the bottom edge, and leaving at least ten centimetres clear at either end. Fold the ends over the filling, then lift the bottom edge over until the almond paste is completely encased. Now just roll the pastry away from you to form a big Moroccan snake, keeping the pastry tucked in nice and tightly, so that the roll is neat and tidy.

When everything is rolled up, take one end and very carefully start to coil the roll up. Be very gentle – the pastry is delicate and will split. When it does,  patch up the gap with some more filo and maybe some melted butter as glue.

Slide the coiled pastry onto a large baking tray, which is much easier said than done.  My pizza peel helped.

Bake for forty to forty-five minutes in an oven pre-heated to 180c, or until the pastry is a rich golden colour. The pastry may burst around the edges a little in the oven…if it does, just cut away the overflowing filling with a sharp knife when the cake comes out of the oven.

Make the date sauce, in a pan and over a gentle heat place the dates and orange juice, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 20 mins.  Leave to cool a little, then give it a good whizz up in a blender until you have a thick, smooth and silky sauce.

Allow to cool a little, dust liberally with icing sugar and serve warm with vanilla ice cream or natural yogurt, the wonderful warm date sauce.  Oh yer and a scattering of rose petals..... Enjoy


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