What’s the point of having dessert? I asked a few friends this question and their answer was « why should food be necessarily useful? ». Dessert would thus be useless but necessary. Here is the essence of this sweet dish that we usually have before the table is un-served (it’s the origin of the word in Latin). It’s probably the moment in a meal that is the most associated with pleasure, “a final touch” to end an excellent meal, or as some people say “the cherry on the cake”.
Dessert is also the time for the unknown, the surprise; an opportunity to open oneself to the unexpected. A friend once told me that she exceptionally tried a dessert in a non-gourmet fish restaurant a few months ago. She was so pleasantly surprised that she only remembers the restaurant by its dessert now. But a dessert is a kind of double-edged sword: it can enlighten a dinner, but is can also ruin it…
These questions arose to my mind this week, as I wanted to present a dessert inspired from Moroccan cuisine. While thinking about it, it appeared to me that the concept of dessert is not as universal as it seems to be. At least, not in its sophisticated version. In Morocco for example, we often end meals with fruits. The idea of having a sweet prepared dish is not very common. But there are some exceptions on special occasions. In fact, one of our specialties is a sweet couscous called “seffa”. It is often embellished with dried fruits, nuts, almonds, and sometimes honey and fresh fruits. And, it is always served with a glass of milk.
I choose to offer you a “western” variation of it, with caramelized apples, orange and hazelnuts. It is probably an unexpected dessert for most of you, but it reconciled me with this idea of pleasure that is so specific to desserts, and that I have lost for a while…
Sweet Couscous and Caramelized Apples – ‘Seffa’
300 g / 10 oz semolina
1 orange, sliced
40 g / 1.5 oz brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp hazelnut/walnut/argan oil
Pour the semolina in a large plate. Add little by little 1 cup of water and mix with hands until you feel the grain is humid. In the upper part of a couscous maker or in a steamer over the pot, pour the semolina. A tip to avoid the steam to escape is to place a cloth around the edge of the couscous maker / pot, between the upper and lower part. When you see that the steam is going up and through the semolina, leave to steam for 10 minutes covered.
Pour the hot semolina in a large plate, separate the grains with hands (or with a wood fork), adding some oil. Put aside and cover. Heat up again the semolina for 10 more minutes. Let it cool.
Peel and core the apples. Cut them into two parts and chop into fine slices. In a saucepan, cook the apples with some water and sugar, during 15 minutes, until the apples are tender and brown. Reserve the syrup.
In a ramekin, pour some semolina and press down. Add some apple slices over and press. Invert onto serving plate. Decorate with some orange slices, some hazelnuts and a drizzle of syrup.
Hi there! I'm Majda.
Foodie, yogini, life lover!
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