By Hoff36

Moroccan cakes are delicious, and very, very sweet – it's little wonder that diabetes is extremely common in Morocco, such is their love of sweet foods.

On almost every street corner in Morocco, you will find a cake shop, full of exotic and delicious looking fare. Moroccan cakes are often based on Arabic influenced geometric shapes, such as stars, crescents and triangles and the sharing and enjoyment of these cakes and cookies is a part of Moroccan culture not to be missed.

The most popular Moroccan cakes include Gazelle's Horns – Kaab el Ghzal – a sweet pastry with an almond paste filling. Shebakia – sweet, salted pastry dough dipped in honey and sesame seeds are also popular. Ghorbia are shortbread-like biscuits, with toasted sesame seeds. Beckhito are hard, crispy cookies. M'hanncha is a flaky pastry 'snake' that is coiled and chopped into small pieces, filled with almond paste and scented with orange oil. Briouat can be sweet or savoury – similar to Indian samosas, the sweet versions of these triangular pastries are often stuffed with pistachios and almonds and laced with honey.

The majority of Moroccan cakes are based on pastry, nuts and honey. Dates and marzipan are also popular ingredients, and some may be flavored with rose or orange water. There are also sweets – but not as we know them – called 'Sellou' (known as 'Slilo' in some Amazigh speaking parts of the country) – which is a mixture of flour, butter and almonds, mixed with spices and honey, that is served as a powdery mix, that is spooned into a small saucer and eaten with a teaspoon. Similar is Amlou – a paste made from almonds, honey and argan oil that is served as a dip. Fekkas – traditionally served during Ramadan are small, bite-size biscuits that are far less sweet, often flavored with thyme or anise.

In Moroccan homes, these sweets and pastries are often served before a main meal, rather than as a dessert, and are served on a large plate, stacked up and wrapped in clear cellophane decorated with ribbons and bows – they look incredible! Just be sure not to overindulge, as there may be up to three more courses to follow the sweet entrée. Fruit is often served at the end of a meal, either as it is, or in yet more Moroccan desert recipes – for example, oranges with a sugar and clove syrup, or peaches with a rosewater and mint syrup. What a way to experience the real Morocco - through such delicous gourment food!

Moroccan cakes are traditionally served with Moroccan mint tea, another bedrock of Moroccan cuisine.

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