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While classic harcha is a semolina flatbread that’s cooked stove top, baked harcha (harcha dyal ferran or harcha au four) is a Moroccan semolina cookie that’s baked in the oven. The sweetened dough can be flavored with any combination of anise, raisins and sesame seeds.
In Morocco you’ll sometimes find these semolina cookies shaped quite large — this is especially common in snack shops — but I’ve shown them here in petite form, which I prefer for both snacking and tea time spreads.
I sometimes replace the traditional anise seeds with ground anise; you might also like to replace some of the fine semolina with coarse semolina for more texture. Coarse semolina can also be used to add texture to the sugar garnish.
You can enjoy baked harcha shortly after they come out of the oven, but your patience will be rewarded if you wait, as their flavor does improve the next day. Store completely cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week or in the freezer for much longer.
Moroccan Semolina Cookies with Anise, Raisins and Sesame - Baked HarchaChristine Benlafquih | Taste of Maroc
For the Dough
For the Garnish
- 4 tablespoons semolina (coarse or fine)
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Preheat your oven to 338° F (170° C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Make the Cookie Dough
- Measure out your semolina and all purpose flour into a large bowl. Add the sugar, baking powder, salt, sesame seeds, anise, and raisins. Stir to combine.
- Add the vanilla, eggs, butter and milk. Stir to thoroughly to blend the wet ingredients into the dry until a wet, sandy-textured dough forms. If the dough is dry, mix in a little more milk (you want the dough to be almost too moist to shape).
- Leave the dough to rest and absorb some of the liquid for about 10 minutes, or until you can easily roll balls from the dough.
Shape and Bake the Cookies
- Prepare the garnish by combining the semolina and sugar in a small bowl.
- Shape portions the dough into smooth balls about 2" (5 cm) in diameter (Or, shape the balls quite large, about the size of a small mandarin orange.) Roll the balls in the sugar and semolina garnish then place on the prepared baking sheets, spaced two to three inches apart.
- Bake the harcha for about 25 minutes, or until golden. (They can be made darker than the photo, but I prefer them lighter in color as shown.)
- Allow the cookies to set briefly before transferring them to a rack to cool.
Serving and Storing the Cookies
- Serve the semolina cookies warm or at room temperature. (Note: I think the flavor is better the next day.)
- Once completely cooled, the cookies should be stored in an airtight container, where they will keep at room temperature for up to a week or in the freezer for several months.
Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is only an estimate obtained from online calculators. Optional ingredients may not be included in the nutritional information.REVIEW THIS RECIPE
Christine Benlafquih is Founding Editor at Taste of Maroc and owner of Taste of Casablanca, a food tour and culinary activity business in Casablanca. A long time resident of Morocco, she’s written extensively about Moroccan cuisine and culture. She was the Moroccan Food Expert for The Spruce Eats (formerly About.com) from 2008 to 2016.