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Algerian Ramadan Dessert - Qalb El Louz / Kalb Ellouze / H'rissa / Chamia

Qalb El Louz (translates to Heart of Almonds) is a rich, semolina dessert filled with almonds, baked, drenched in sugar syrup and is considered a must have in all Algerian homes this Ramadan.

The bitterness of the orange blossom water permeates the semolina / almond layers cutting through just some of the sickly sweetness, leaving behind a beautiful aroma in your kitchen once baked.

Qalb El Louz  also known as  Kalb Ellouze / H'rissa / Chamia depending on which region of Algeria you are in is an equal in my book to basbousa, try it and see for yourself.

Recipe slighlty adapted from radotouille

Qalb El Louz - Heart of Almonds

Servings: 10-12


For the semolina layers you will need:

500g coarse or extra coarse semolina
250g caster sugar or vanilla sugar
125g unsalted butter, melted
125ml liquid: 65ml orange blossom water and 60ml water
For the heart of almonds you will need:
250g almonds
60g sugar
2tbsp unsalted butter
1-2tsp ground cinnamon 
1tbsp orange blossom water
For assembly:
100g melted unsalted butter
almonds to decorate(optional)


For the syrup you will need:

1 litre water
500 grams sugar (i used granulated)
1 vanilla pod
1/4 lemon, juice only
to finish:-
1/2 cap of orange blossom water


The Day / Night before:

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Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat, set aside. Measure orange blossom water and water - mix and set aside. Weigh semolina and sugar.

By hand, mix semolina and sugar together. If you want you can toast the semolina in a hot dry frying pan over medium-high heat before mixing it with the sugar, this adds a nutty flavour to the semolina and also i found improves absorption quality of the semolina.
Add slightly cooled melted butter and again using your hand mix like this:

 Like when you are making pastry, rub the butter into the semolina/sugar grains.

Add HALF the mix of waters and continue with the same motion, it will feel like damp sand.

Cover semolina and leftover water and refrigerate over night, now make your syrup.

Add all the ingredients minus the orange blossom water, stir on a medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then HANDS OFF NO MORE STIRRING bring to boil, then simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Turn off heat, add orange blossom water, leave uncovered to cool to room temperature. Cover and leave until the next day, no need for this to be refrigerated.


The Next Day:

Remove bowl of semolina from the fridge and leave it to get upto room temperature, about 30minutes on a warm day.


Make Filling - Whiz all ingredients in food processer until finely ground, set aside.


Break up the clumps of semolina in the same manner as you did the day before, rubbing the grains between your thumb and fingers then add the remaining mix of waters and continue to mix, now it's assembly time! Pre-Heat Oven to 200C / 180C Fan.

Sprinkle around a third of the semolina onto the base your bake ware, I'm using 21cm round silicone but  Radotouille uses a rectangular tin 33cm x 23cm EDIT *** after baking this again it actually does work better according to hubby in the correct size dish. which means a thinner, longer version of qalb el louz, choice is yours. Pat down lightly the semolina into an even(ish) layer.

Add the layer of almonds, smoothing out gently.

Sprinkle the remaining two thirds of the semolina over the almond layer

lightly smooth out, don't compact!

Score with a knife, yes i know my portions aren't even lol you could get fancy i suppose and do diamonds?! Pour and brush another 100g of butter over the top of your qalb el louz. You could use vegetable ghee but you will need to reduce the amount to 90g, this would help the overall appearance i.e. even browness but the flavour/richness could be lacking. Decorate each slice with an almond or nut of your choice, i won't tell anyone!
Bake for upto an hour, if you find the outer rim is blackening, your oven could be running too hot, besides investing in an oven thermometer you should reduce the temperature until the center is cooked, don't worry a little browner on the outer rim is normal but do not let it burn!

Turn off oven and remove your Qalb el louz. Immediately pour over some* of the room temperature sugar syrup until it is swimming, return to turned off oven for 10minutes. Take out and if all the syrup has been soaked up, test it with a knife that the syrup has penetrated all the layer or using your finger touch the top it should be just a litte firm, if you think it needs more syrup add more and return to oven. Leave to cool, best served the day after baking! (gives the semolina chance to soak up all the syrup or some of the water to evaporate from the syrup so the qalb el louz becomes a little firmer which helps when slicing and visually when serving to your guests, family)
**As a rough guide, i used approximately 3/4 of the syrup

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At 24 July 2012 at 17:21 , Blogger ••❤MingMing❤•• said...

Oh yummy I used to eat tones of it when I was little.( I could eat tones and still be skinny now I have to fight!!! :( ).

At 25 July 2012 at 00:22 , Blogger From Yeast to Zest said...

No Asmaa! You're going to make me bake this and I want to loose weight... lol! There's desserts I can bake for neighbors and family and know I wont be tempted but this one I know I'll eat all by myself.

At 25 July 2012 at 00:30 , Blogger Noor said...

I bet you all were on a sugar high after this lol.

At 25 July 2012 at 10:44 , Blogger Unknown said...

I'm exactly the same sister mashAllah my nickname from my grandfather used to be mowgli (from the jungle book) lol

At 25 July 2012 at 10:48 , Blogger Unknown said...

Oooops Sorry lol you know I say it's a dessert but it doesn't all have to be eaten in 1 sitting! Dh usually makes it last 10days, it's well preserved in all that sugar! Hehe I've seen healthier versions but this one is what my dh loves the most and alhamduillah he hasn't got to worry about his weight just yet, I on the other hand have been eating my lemon/lime drizzle cake I pretend that the lemon/lime s cutting my fat lol

At 25 July 2012 at 10:49 , Blogger Unknown said...

lol yeh you could say that

At 25 July 2012 at 12:35 , Blogger From Yeast to Zest said...

Lol, hey if lemon in water is suppose to be healthy and fat burning why not in a cake right. lol I should add a few lemon drops to my brownies. :)

At 25 July 2012 at 18:01 , Blogger Unknown said...

Esalaamu aleikoum Asmaa very nice looking kalb bel louz! Happy Ramadan!

At 26 July 2012 at 00:57 , Blogger Noor said...

I will try that too lol

At 2 March 2013 at 22:25 , Blogger Unknown said...

mashallah looks great. We never ever use syrup. YUCK... it tastes awful we only use honey. Healthy and tastes way better. Plus my grandmother is diabetic and can only have honey not syrup

At 4 March 2013 at 08:12 , Blogger Unknown said...

@salwa - thank you! i will have to try it using honey instead in sha Allah


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