Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Camel Milk Caramel Basbousa #CreativeCookieExchange

Basbousa are little squares or diamonds made with semolina dough that are traditionally topped with almonds and then soaked with rose flavored syrup when hot. For a twist to the typical recipe, I’ve soaked mine in caramel syrup made out of camel milk. 

Sometimes for these Creative Cookie Exchange posts I have a recipe in mind – sometimes even baked - weeks ahead of time because our organizer, Laura from The Spiced Life reveals the theme several months in advance, to help us plan. But this month, with the delicious theme of caramel, I just wasn’t finding inspiration anywhere. Until my fellow CCE member, co-creator of Bread Bakers and friend, Renee from Magnolia Days asked the following question in the group: “Does dulce de leche count as caramel or is it strictly caramel for the May event?” This set off a flurry of comments where several of us defended dulce as absolutely a caramel and got me thinking about the camel milk cajeta or dulce de leche sitting in my refrigerator. It does keep for months, but why not use some of it in a cookie? So the wheels started turning.

Camel milk caramel can certainly be put in any cookie. But wouldn’t it be fun to find an Arabic one to use it in? Hence, the basbousa. With their traditional sugar syrup, I’ve always found basbousa too sweet – and I’m not a fan of rose water and rose essence, which taste like eating soap to me – but with the addition of the sweet and slightly salty camel milk caramel, they are perfect. Another treat entirely.

So, with my apologies to the Arabic world in general, and Egypt in particular, I've adapted from this recipe from SBS.com.au.  Do watch the video if you are making the original, because the instructions differ from the written recipe. I’ve written mine to include the half hour rest, for instance.

1 1/8 cups or 215g coarse semolina
3/4 cup or 50g freshly grated coconut
1/2 cup or 100g sugar
1/4 cup or 30g flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup or 100g thick yogurt or crème fraîche
7 tablespoons or 100g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
16-30 whole almonds, depending on how small you cut your basbousa.

For the caramel syrup:
1/2 cup or 120ml dulce de leche, cajeta or thick caramel. I used a camel milk version, instructions here.
1-2 teaspoons milk

Grease an 8x8 in or 20x20cm baking pan and set it aside.

Mix the semolina, coconut, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.

Add in the yogurt and melted, cooled butter and mix well.

Your dough should be fairly stiff but pliable.

Spread the mixture with your hands into your greased baking pan. Make sure to get it right up to the sides and nice and even.

Cover with a towel and let rest for half an hour. When the time is almost up, preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Cut the dough into diamond shapes then press an almond into each one. I chose to cut mine pretty small, but you can certainly cut yours larger. You just won’t need as many almonds then.

Bake in your preheated oven for 20–25 minutes or until golden brown. While it's baking make the caramel syrup.

Put the stiff caramel in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl and warm it slightly, just to loosen it. Add a little milk to make it even more runny and stir well till the milk is completely incorporated. You are looking for the consistency of maple or chocolate syrup.

Right when the hot cake comes out of the oven, pour the caramel syrup over it.

It sits there for a few short minutes.

Then it sinks in, leaving the almonds with a lovely shine.

Cool to serve and use a sharp knife to cut through again and lift them out.

Enjoy! Basbousa is a term of endearment in Arabic meaning something like "little sweet," so make these for your basbousa.

Are you looking for more caramel cookie goodness? Here you go!

If you are a blogger and want to join in the fun, contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links.

You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes - be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts. You can find all of them on our home page at The Spiced Life. We post all together on the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month!


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