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Almond & Spice Filled Honey-Drenched Crescents

Travados

About the Recipe

With my son coming home for a visit after many months I am baking his favorite cookies, travados. As the enticing aromas of cinnamon and cloves permeate my kitchen they evoke such nostalgia of his childhood growing up in Zimbabwe.
These irresistible nutty indulgences are a staple in Rhodesli homes often served with a cup of coffee or as that sweet something after a meal.
I have tweaked this recipe adding olive oil, fresh orange juice and semolina for a crumblier cookie and simplified the honey syrup coating.
Try these super easy to make crunchy delights. You may prefer to enjoy the travados without the syrup as my son does - simply dust with confectioner’s sugar. Either way these scrumptious cookies keep for weeks!

Ingredients

Filling:

·      9oz (250g) unblanched ground almonds, lightly toasted

·      1 tbsp fresh orange juice

·      ½ cup clear honey

·      1 tbsp brandy, preferably Greek Metaxa

·      ½ tsp ground cinnamon

·      ¼ tsp ground cloves

·      1 heaped tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted​


Travados:

·      ½ cup olive oil

·      ½ cup vegetable oil

·      ½ cup superfine (caster) sugar

·      ¾ cup fresh orange juice

·      2¾  cups cake flour, as needed

·      ½ cup fine semolina

·      1 tsp baking powder

·      ½ tsp baking soda

Syrup:

·      ½ cup sugar

·      1 cup clear honey

·      ½ cup water

·      a 1 inch (2.5cm) strip orange zest

·      1 tsp fresh orange juice

·      1 tsp orange blossom water

 

½ cup toasted sesame seeds (or ground unblanched almonds), for topping

Preparation

1.    In a bowl mix the filling ingredients to a paste. Shape the paste into about .65oz (10g) ovals on a plate. Set aside.

2.    In a medium bowl add the flour, semolina and baking powder.

3.    In another large bowl add the olive and vegetable oil, sugar, orange juice and mix. Add the baking soda and whisk immediately for 5 seconds until the ingredients combine and the baking soda dissolves and starts to foam.  

4.    Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, kneading the dough lightly to combine with your hands to form a soft pliable dough. Do not overwork the dough.

5.    Pinch portions of dough (0.63oz/18g) and shape into balls then place on a platter.

6.    Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two baking trays with baking paper.

7.    Shape the travados: Flatten each ball between your palms to make discs about ⅛in (3mm) thick. Place each disc on a work surface and create a decorative pattern by gently pressing the tines of a fork on one side of the pastry*. Turn the discs over and place 1 oval of the filling in the center. Fold the dough over the filling pressing the edges with your fingers to seal, and curve the pastries slightly into half-moon crescent shapes. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling*.

8.    Place the travados on the prepared baking tray, mounded side up, 1in (2cm) apart and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool travados on wire racks.

9.    While the travados are baking make the syrup: Bring the sugar, honey and water in a small pan to a boil. Add the orange zest and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the orange juice and orange blossom water, simmer until syrup has thickened slightly and the short-thread stage is reached**. Remove the pan with the syrup from the heat. Discard the orange zest.

10. Gently drop the cooled travados into the hot syrup a few at a time for about 1 minute to soak through into the syrup.  

11. With a slotted spoon scoop them out and place onto a serving dish. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (or coat with ground almonds).

 

Stella’s Hints:

§  To freeze: Place travados between layers of baking paper in an airtight container. To serve, defrost then crisp in a 350°F (180°C) preheated oven for 5 minutes. Proceed with the honey syrup.

§  **Short-thread stage: At this stage, the hot syrup is thick and sticky. Test it by placing a small amount onto a teaspoon. Dip wetted thumb and index finger in the syrup and pull them apart a couple of times to see if threads of about ½in (1.5cm) in length form.

 

Twist on Tradition:

* Alternatively, with a rolling pin flatten each ball, place filling in the center, fold the dough over as above. With a crimper or tweezer create a raised decorative design on the filled travados.

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