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A Sweet Hanukkah Treat – Macrotes

My memories of Hanukkah in Morocco revolve around the joy of family gathering together.
[additional-authors]
December 7, 2023
Photo by Sephardic Spice Girls

My memories of Hanukkah in Morocco revolve around the joy of family gathering together. We lit one beautiful menorah presented to my parents by my mother’s father on the occasion of their wedding. My parents met and married in Larache, an ancient port city on the northwest coast of Morocco and my grandfather was the Rabbi of the community. When they moved to Casablanca, that precious menorah came with them. On Hanukkah everyone would gather around the menorah to light the candles, say the blessings and sing about the miracle of the Maccabees defeating the mighty Greeks. After dinner, we would devour freshly fried donut treats, like Macrotes and Rosquitos.

In America, my children enjoyed gifts and parties and they each lit their own personal menorah — a bus, a baseball and ballet slippers. I always invited all the cousins over on Sunday or the last night of Hanukkah. I have many menorahs, so everyone could light. The blaze of so many burning lights is always such a beautiful sight. In America, we adopted the Ashkenazi custom of eating fried potato latkes. But we also fry all the Sephardic donuts. And it’s a lot of fun.

When my mother relinquished her frying duties, I started making rosquitos, a cake-like donut. I also started making burmuelos, the Sephardic fried donut recipe that my Rhodesli mother in law perfected and handed down to me.

I recreated my mother’s recipe in my head for this favorite, treasured dessert and fried up a practice batch. They came out just as I remembered–delicious!

Recently I was reminiscing on Hanukkahs past and I remembered macrotes. I recreated my mothers recipe in my head for this favorite, treasured dessert and fried up a practice batch. They came out just as I remembered — delicious!

I’m really excited for this Friday night’s dinner. We will be celebrating Hanukkah and the birthdays of my son Sammy and my nephews Luca and Nico. I’ll be serving favorite foods from their childhood. Sweet, smoky, extra saucy barbecue short ribs, crispy chicken schnitzel, Spanish red rice, fassoulia (green beans in a red sauce) and lots of salads and dips.

I’ll fry potato latkes. I’ll serve them with homemade applesauce. I’m loving my no sugar applesauce recipe which just involves boiling red and green apples with a little water and a cinnamon stick. It comes out so good.

And for dessert, there’ll be rosquitos, burmuelos and macrotes to remind us of the past, to ensure a sweet present and to guarantee that our Jewish traditions burn bright.

—Rachel

Macrotes are a deep fried Hanukkah donut unique to the Sephardic Jews of Larache, Morocco.

Deliciously light and puffy and a little bit chewy, macrotes are the treat your family and friends will devour this Hanukkah.

Made with a yeast dough, cut into little squares and deep fried, Macrotes get their sweetness from a generous sprinkle of powdered sugar or a douse of sweet, golden honey syrup.

This year, we’ll be lighting the Hanukkah candles to commemorate the victory of the Maccabee’s and the rededication of the Holy Temple. We’ll increase the light to dispel the darkness and we’ll be praying for healing in Israel and the miracle of peace.

—Sharon 

MACROTES

8 cups flour
2 eggs
1 Tbsp instant yeast
3 cups water
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
½ cup avocado or vegetable oil
Oil for frying (vegetable oil or light olive oil)

Place flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center.
Pour in the water, yeast, sugar, salt, oil and eggs, then mix all of the ingredients until the dough comes together and is a bit sticky to the touch.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and a towel.
Allow to rise for one hour.
Place the dough on a work surface and cut into four equal portions.
Take one part of the dough and roll into a rectangle.
Cut the dough into two inch strips and then cut each strip into equal squares. (Or use a cookie cutter to cut into circles or stars.)
Repeat with remaining dough.
In a large frying pan, over medium high heat, warm about an inch of oil. When oil is hot add a baby carrot, which will help keep the oil clean while frying dough. (When carrot becomes black, replace it with a fresh piece.)
Start to add the squares of dough in small batches. When the dough puffs ups and rises to the top and the edges are golden, turn them over and fry the other side.
Place fried macrotes on a wire rack to drain any excess oil.
Serve with a generous sprinkle of powdered sugar or prepare a simple honey syrup recipe to coat the macrotes.

HONEY SYRUP
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp honey
1/3 cup water
1 inch of lemon peel, cut into slivers

Place all the ingredients into a small saucepan and warm over medium high heat.
Stir continuously with a wooden spoon.
When the sugar has dissolved and the syrup begins to thicken, remove from the heat.
Use two forks to dip the macrotes in syrup and then onto a platter.
Best served on the same day.


Rachel Sheff and Sharon Gomperts have been friends since high school. They love cooking and sharing recipes. They have collaborated on Sephardic Educational Center projects and community cooking classes. Follow them on Instagram @sephardicspicegirls and on Facebook at Sephardic Spice SEC Food.

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