Alright, I confess. I am an internet junkie when it comes to searching food websites and blogs for something special. Something unique. Something different. It is a challenge to run across a recipe that has an ingredient that I have never used or even heard of before now. Once, instead of perusing a cookbook for recipes, my foodie buddy and I (my interpretation of bff is not best friends forever but best foodie friend!), searched the glossary to find that something special that was not already in our cupboards; and that challenge brought pomegranate molasses into my life which I have used in a recipe previously in this blog, and will use again in the future. So, being on a few e-mail lists, I received one from Levana recently, a wonderful chef originally from Morocco, who lives in New York, runs cooking classes and creates terrific international and exotic recipes, the most recent being amlou, which she refers to as peanut butter and jam, Moroccan-style!
How could I not try this? Her ingredients list is short: almonds, olive oil, honey and a pinch of salt.
In my version, argan oil is substituted for the olive oil, which might be more difficult to find but luckily, I discovered it at Loblaws, among their new President Choice Black Label foods. Argan oil is a plant oil pressed from the nut kernels of the argan tree, only found in Morocco. The price for this unique oil is expensive but I wanted to make my first batch of amlou to be traditional. And I’m sure it is worth it; the taste of argan oil is deep and rich and nutty. The almonds are greatly complemented by the addition of the exotic argan oil.
The almonds are spread out on a cookie sheet in a preheated 325°F oven for about 15 minutes to enhance the toasty flavour and aroma. Traditionally, these almonds should be ground to a paste with a mortar and pestle but a food processor will be used in my kitchen.
Grind the almonds first until it is as powdery as possible before adding the remaining ingredients. After adding the honey, oil and salt, process until it has the as smooth a texture as possible. I found the texture somewhere between a smooth and crunchy store-bought peanut butter, with the addition of a shine from the oil.
Put out a platter of pita bread and spread some glistening amlou on it and enjoy with Moroccan clementines. Hopefully one day soon, I will have the privilege to have someone serve me this treat in the country of its origin. Until then, I close my eyes and imagine I am there. I take a bite and enjoy.
2 cups whole unpeeled almonds
2∕3 cup argan oil (can substitute olive oil)
2∕3 cup honey
½ teaspoon salt
- Toast the almonds about 15 minutes in a preheated 325°F oven.
- Process the almond first in a food processor until the almond meal is as fine as possible.
- Add remaining ingredients and grind until it has a peanut butter consistency, somewhere between smooth and crunchy, and an oily gloss.