So not only have I not posted in over 2 months, this isn’t even really sticking to my normal posting style. I’m not posting about an ingredient from Eveleigh, or a particularly ingredient at all. Nor have I cooked anything. But I have just been gallavanting around the Mediterranean for a month and if there was a place in which I could consume lots of tasty treats, it would be the Med. So to kick of the new year and get me back into the swing of weekly blogging I thought I would share one of my favourite discoveries of all of Tunisia: Kaak Ouarka.
Middle Eastern sweets are some of my favourite. One of the many advantages of dating The Beard is access to sweet sweet baklava. And it would seem that the Tunisians also have some great honey and sugar-soaked, date-filled, pastry-wrapped pieces of goodness going on. Trawling through the Medina of Tunis, we can across Sweet Street (note: not real street name) where there are a string of stalls all selling their own variation of baklava. However my favourite would definitely have to be Kaak Ouarka. This is an almond-based sweet; sort of a cross between a biscuit and a cake.
Now the description below comes with the following caveat: Whilst in Sousse, we stayed with the most adorable lady, Rabaa, who took a day our of her schedule to drive us around to some gorgeous little towns surrounding Sousse, including the home of Kaak Ouarka, who’s name escapes me. (UPDATE: 08 Feb 2013: I have since found out that this town is called Zaghouan). Now, Raba spoke French and Tunisian Arabic. The Beard speaks English and Lebanese Arabic. And I speak English and know how to order a coffee and 1 pineapple in French. Therefore, I am making my best guess at what actually constitues one of these biscuits… Rabaa, my sincerest apologies if I have not in any way accurately described these!
Originating from a town about an hour north of Sousse, these little bagel look-a-likes are filled with an almond meal similar to marzipan in taste but better, then wrapped in an almond meal dough and boiled. Just like little bagels! Subtly sweet, I could not get enough of these bad boys. When we left Sousse, Raba was kind enough to send me away with a box full for the ferry ride to Sicily. Not a single one made it to the Italian island.
So now my next mission is to locate a baker in the Sydney Metropolitan area that bakes Kaak Ouarka. Anyone know a Tunisian baker?
**UPDATE, 08 February 2013: It turns out I was only partly correct in my description of how these delightful little things are cooked. Thanks to Rabaa for passing on the correct details!:
- The outer shell of the kaak ouarka is comprised of a pate brisee, which is essentially a fine shortcrust pastry. It is made into a tube, then joined. This hollow doughnut shape is then boiled to cook the shell.
- After the shell has been cooked, it is cut in half (around the entire edge of the doughnut, I assume). It is then filled with the sweet almond paste and egg whites are then used to join the cut edges back together.
- The little doughnut is then placed in the oven for just a couple of minutes on a really cool temperature, just to cook the egg white, but keep the kaak ouarka white.