These sweet coils are inspired by the traditional Moroccan pastry M'hanncha, or snake cake, in which phyllo pastry is stuffed with a spiced nut mixture. Here, almonds take center stage.
adapted from A World of Cake
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- Yield:makes 3 coils, serving 6
- Active time: 40 minutes
- Total time:1 hour 50 minutes
- For the Filling
- 1 1/2 cups raw almonds
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- For Assembly
- 12 (12- by 17-inch) sheets phyllo dough
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
- Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
For filling: In the bowl of a food processor, combine almonds and confectioners' sugar and pulse until a coarse meal. Add cinnamon, cardamom, egg yolk, vanilla, and butter and pulse until mixture is a paste. It doesn't have to be completely smooth though the almonds should be ground very fine. Cover paste with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Lay one sheet of phyllo on prepared baking sheet. Brush with butter then fold in half lengthwise, creating a 6- by 8 1/2-inch rectangle. Brush top of rectangle with more butter, then lay a second sheet of phyllo on top, placing it so that the long edge on the one side is aligned (new sheet of phyllo should hang off the other edge). Brush the aligned-half of the top sheet of phyllo with more butter and fold over to match the 6- by 8 1/2-inch rectangle formed by the first. You should end up with a stack of phyllo that is four sheets thick. Repeat with two more pieces of phyllo to produce a 6- by 8 1/2-inch stack of phyllo 8 layers thick.
Repeat step 3 with remaining 8 sheets phyllo dough, forming three rectangles of 8 layers each total.
Divide almond filling into three equal parts. Roll one part into a 8 1/2-inch log. Lay log alongside phyllo then roll up, jelly roll style, to form a rope. Curl rope into a tight coil and brush with butter.
Repeat steps 3 and 4 twice more, creating two more coils. Bake coils until golden, about 40 minutes. Let cool completely then dust with confectioners' sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.