Moroccan Ghriba Cookies

I was on deadline when I started writing this post and now that my deadline has come and gone and my story published I realized I never returned to finish it. And I should, because I’ve been making these Moroccan walnut cookies every few weeks and they are 1. easy, 2. cute! and 3. delicious.

In my current and new iteration as a homeowner, I’ve mentally fallen prey to the idea that my house should be “finished” before I invite anyone over. Fortunately we have not given way to this in reality as I’ve realized it will never be “finished” and old couches can be slipcovered and there’s no time like the present to have friends over for a meal! We’ve been doing some lunch parties and a few dinners and when my husband does the cooking he always makes a big couscous feed — vegetable tajine and a lamb dish — I make a cucumber-tomato salad, and we finish with these little cookies.

Morocco … six years ago we were about to leave for that adventure and it is starting to feel like a long time ago. But I am blessed – or cursed – with a very vivid memory and so sometimes the days there still feel very close. I can’t say we ate ghriba in Casablanca but we probably did and I just didn’t know what they were called.

The simplest ingredients are blended together to create a dense, not-too-sweet morsel. Walnuts are the star so if you love walnuts you’ll be very pleased. If you don’t, try almonds instead. A bit – but just a bit – of powdered sugar makes these cookies into the little treats they are supposed to be, and I love one or two cookies with a late morning cup of coffee. There’s no white horse clip-clopping his way past my kitchen window but we have ample birds and the merest glimpse of a goat in the field behind our backyard. No palm trees but redwoods and old oaks. There are lots of mourning doves cooing through the morning fog, however, the sound of whom will always take me straight back to our time in North Africa and the Middle East. The same but oh so different.

[print_this] Ghriba

Makes about 20 cookies.

1 large egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/4 cups walnut pieces, coarsely ground
1 cup powdered sugar

In a large bowl, beat the egg and butter together with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add sugar and cinnamon and beat well to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Beat into the batter and then add the walnuts, Mix until smooth. Place bowl in fridge and chill for 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place powdered sugar in a bowl.

Remove the dough from the fridge and roll into 1-inch balls. Roll in sugar and place on baking sheet 1- inch apart. Place in the oven and bake for four minutes; then rotate sheets and bake cookies until they are golden, firm at the edges, and slighly cracked on top, another 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool on the sheet, and dust with more powdered sugar before serving. [/print_this]

Join the Conversation

  1. L Sakellaropoulos says:

    Love reading about your life abroad… I shared a similar experience and am back in NorCal once again.

    Can you substitute almond flour and make these gluten-free?


  2. Nice post… yummy cookies and I remember that horse & carriage. What a time you have had

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