Last weekend I decided to try my hand at a Moroccan dessert the “m’hanncha”  You may know it by its other name “the snake pastry”. This traditional Moroccan dessert is made of filo pastry filled with an almond paste filling lightly infused with rosewater. The pastry is then rolled into a coil which resembles, yes you guessed it, a snake.

A search through recipe books and on the internet produced many variations for the almond filling, some with dates, orange, cardamom, pistachio nuts and a few with chocolate. Of course I chose a chocolate version, although I did wonder if this might be a slightly less than traditional version of the recipe.




Adapted from The Australian Women’s Weekly “World Table”.


  • 90gm butter, melted
  • 200gm almond meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 80gm pure icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons rosewater
  • 45gm dark semi sweet chocolate, grated
  • 6 sheets of filo pastry
  • extra butter, melted for brushing on pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten lightly
  • ground cinnamon for dusting
  • Icing sugar for dusting.


Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 9″ spring form cake tin.

Place melted butter, almond meal, almond extract, icing sugar, rosewater and chocolate in a bowl and mix to fully combine.

Roll rounded teaspoons into log shapes.

Take one sheet of filo pastry and brush with melted butter. Place another sheet of filo on top and brush with melted butter.

Place 1/3 of the almond logs in a row along the long length of the pastry one inch from the edge.

Roll the filo tightly around the logs. Brush pastry with melted butter.

Repeat process two more times with the remaining pastry and almond logs.

Pinch the end of one length of pastry, this will form the centre of “the snake”. Wind the pastry into a tight coil brushing with egg as you wind to join the pastry together. Keep adding the second and third pastry, use the egg to join the ends together.

Brush spiral with egg and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Place spiral in pre prepared cake tin.

Bake for approx. 25mins or until golden brown.

Remove from oven allow to cool and dust with icing sugar.




15 thoughts on “m’hanncha

  1. Tiffany

    Wow I’ve never heard of this either but it looks like amazing. The flavor combinations sound fantastic–I hope I’ll get a chance to this some day!

  2. TheKitchenLioness

    Karen, me too, I love the ingredients for this cake – filo, chocolate, rosewater and almonds sounds absolutely delightful and, of course, this is quite the “looker”, what a wonderful idea for a post!

  3. laurasmess

    I’m busting to see the inside of that snake pastry, it looks beautiful and the flavours you added sound divine! I’ve made Ottolenghi-inspired filo cigars with a similar filling and I loved them. I will have to try this coiled pastry dessert next!

  4. David

    I have only seen this dish in magazines and cookbooks – never saw one in Morocco… So sad! I have wanted to make one, too – you have inspired me!

  5. Gather and Graze

    What a delicious treat Karen! I would love to have been at your house as this was coming out of the oven! Almond, rosewater and chocolate all wrapped up in filo pastry… sounds pretty magical to me! 🙂


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