Tunisian Sweets and Pastries

Tunisian Sweets and Pastries

No Tunisian meal is complete without a lavish dessert at the end. And Tunisians do take their sweets seriously, be it fresh seasonal fruits, cakes, fried almond pastries, ice cream, doughnuts or whatever else. Some of these delights have come from Turkey, brought by soldiers of the Ottoman army; others have been known here for centuries. To acquaint yourself with Tunisia's most notable confectioneries, follow this guide.
Image Courtesy of: Auxdelicesdupalais

1. Makroudh

Makroudh
Image Courtesy of: Auxdelicesdupalais
Makroudh cookies are a yummy snack stuffed with dates and nuts; sometimes ground almonds or sesame seeds, or fresh figs are also used in the stuffing. The latter is wrapped in the dough made of flour and semolina, which gives it the specific texture and flavor, and then rolled up and sliced into diamond-shape pieces (the name Makroudh translates as “diamond”). The pastry is fried in oil or baked in the oven, upon which it sometimes also gets further treatment by dipping into a honey syrup with citrus-flavored water (lemon or orange blossom). If you’re a fan of baklava, Makroudh will definitely prove up to your liking, very much so that you will wanna get yourself a full box of these...
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2. Almond Baklava

Almond Baklava
Image Courtesy of: Kultigin
Similarly to the other countries once parts of the Ottoman Empire, Tunisia has its own variation of the traditional Mediterranean baklava. In Tunisia, this flaky pastry, made of layers of filo, sweetened and melded together with honey, is filled with chopped almonds, and sometimes walnuts, instead of the more traditional ground hazelnuts and crushed pistachios. Walnuts and almonds give it a crunchy texture, while the honey syrup gives it a sweet sugary flavor, complete with lemon and clove undertones.
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3. Kaak Warka

Kaak Warka
Image Courtesy of: Habib M’henni
Kaak Ouarka is a little sweet pastry made of a very thin layer of dough lightened butter, filled with a marzipan-flavored wild geranium and rose water. By form, it resembles an enlarged version of an engagement ring, sometimes adorned with cute little flowers. This type of dessert is very common throughout the Maghreb region, particularly in Libya and Tunisia, and especially during the holly season of Ramadan.
Offline reading and travel directions:
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4. Bambalouni

Bambalouni
Image Courtesy of: Yamen
If one is to describe Bambalouni, the Tunisian version of American doughnuts, in one word, it would be "sweet" (or "very sweet," if in two words). Otherwise, Bambalouni is the same old round-shaped flour dough fried in oil and sprinkled with sugar or soaked in honey. Widely eaten all over the Maghreb countries, this donut also goes by the name Sfenj. Regardless of what you call it, you must be prepared for a serious sugar boost (in case you're not sweet enough yet), as eating Bambalouni will surely leave you sugar-loaded, big time!!! Still, the sheer deliciousness of this snack is well worth it.

5. Ghraïba Homs (Chickpeas Pastry)

Ghraïba Homs (Chickpeas Pastry)
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Ghraiba homs pastries are the North African cousin to the Spanish mantecados shortbreads.
Made by hand, of simple ingredients - chickpea flour, sugar, butter or oil (in some parts of Tunisia, they also add a dash of lemon or cinnamon) - these cookies are renowned for their "melting in a mouth" texture and distinctive sesame and almond flavor.
Believed to have originated during the Ottoman period (circa 15th century AD) in the Tunisian city of Ghraïba, hence the name, Ghraiba homs go equally well with coffee and tea, particularly in the morning, as a healthy and balanced breakfast treat.

6. YoYos

YoYos
Image Courtesy of: Sami Mlouhi
Tunisians take their sweets seriously, and YoYos – yet another adaptation of North American doughnuts, but with a North African twist in the form of a citrusy glaze – truly stands out. Combining the sweet flavors of honey with a subtle hint of orange, this delicacy is meant to be savored with a nice small glass of mint tea, pine nuts (for a true Tunisian flavor), or a coffee. Oftentimes, the Yoyos are also soaked in sugar syrup and sprinkled with crushed pistachios or almonds. They are a staple snack of certain festivals, as well as the everyday treat that can be bought off little stalls in the streets of many Tunisian cities.

7. Zgougou/ Assidat Zgougou

Zgougou/ Assidat Zgougou
Image Courtesy of: Emna Mizouni
Assidat Zgougou is a very special treat on the list of Tunisian desserts. Prepared for special occasions, such as the birthday of Islamic prophet Muhammad, this is something Tunisians traditionally share with each other, as a token of great respect and brotherly love. The treat is made of sweet cream, pine nuts and dried fruit, and is richly decorated with all sorts of seeds and nuts, ground or whole, varying in form, size and color.
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