Monte(Caos)-Python and The Search For The Holy Ghraiba

January 28 , 2018 by: Amber Trudeau Cookies

That’s a hard cookie name to pun on folks, let me tell you. Although it did bring me to the joy and hilarity that is Monte Python, so these cookies just clearly never stop giving 😉 .

Depending on where you hail from, or which interwebs site you consult, I have seen these called Spanish Montecaos, Moroccan cinnamon melt-away cookies and Ghraiba (which also seems to have about a billion alternate spellings, but that’s a rant for another day). I don’t personally care what you call them though, when I stumbled upon a cookie that celebrates cinnamon in such a big way, I knew I was on board and totally had to make them.

Being the asshole that I am though, I of course had to completely bastardize every recipe for this that I could possibly find (traditional and nontraditional) by adding a whole whack of other stuff. Scandalous? Perhaps. Successful? Not to toot my own horn – but who else it going to do it for me, so “toot toot!”:,

Image result for toot own horn

but I most definitely think so.

So “traditionally” these cookies are basically oil, almond flour, flour and cinnamon (the biggest “daring” deviation I seemed able to find was that some people add anise to this as well. “Now hold on there, you crazy innovator you! Anise!!!???? You’re clearly a brazen hussy with that kind of wanton behaviour 😉 ” ).

Maybe it was because I was still feeling the remnants of Christmas flavours tickling my tastebuds, but I opted to add a little orange zest and pure orange oil to these babies. I also typically don’t tend to use tons of just straight up oil when I’m baking, so while rummaging in my cupboard to pull out my trusty bottle of olive oil, I stumbled across a forgotten bottle of sesame oil. It started calling my name like a hypnotic siren song “use me! UUUUUSSSSSSEEEEEE MEEEEE!!!! Uhhh…but not like one of your French girls, just, in the usual baking/ cooking realm. Now where was I? Right. UUUUUSSSSEEE MMMEEE!!!! SSSSEEEESSSAAAMMMEEE!!!” I mean c’mon, how could I say no to such a weird and creepy request? 😉 . Also, when I thought about it, I was already planning to add the orange, which totally goes with sesame in my opinion (Asian food anyone? In case you thought I was completely making up that tried and true flavour combo).

Toss a few flaked almonds on top of these and a light dusting of icing sugar for zazz (I just liked how pretty it looked on my cranberry almond cookies from the other week, so clearly I’m over using that little “technique” here, but for the love of sugar, I just don’t care 🙂 ), and now you’ve got yourself a black sheep cookie of the most epic kind. This is the cookie that all the others are trash talking, but secretly it’s because they’re super jealous that they’re all just too plain Jane and conservative to ever try stepping it up a notch.

“Just hold on a cinna-minute” sesame (says me) and re-o-range your schedule to find the time to make these bad boys (or girls, or pangender, or bigender, or [insert politically correct terminology here]).

Bastardized Montecaos Cookies

Yield: 2 dozen cookies


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond flour/meal (or grind your own almonds into a fine powder)
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon orange oil (optional – if you’re a fan of orange flavour, definitely do this)
  • 1 cup flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cardamon
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup almond flakes for topping
  • extra cinnamon for dusting
  • icing sugar for dusting (optional)


  1. Pour olive oil and sesame oil into a medium sized mixing bowl. With a wooden spoon, stir in the icing sugar and almond flour, mixing well. Stir in the orange zest and orange oil (if using).
  2. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and cardamon. Add to the oil mixture, and stir until combined. Stir in chopped almonds. Form the dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 325F and line a baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.
  4. Using about a tablespoon of dough, form into into balls and place on baking sheet (these don’t really spread, so you can place them fairly close together).
  5. With lightly oiled hands or the bottom of glass, slightly press down the top of each cookie. Press desired amount of almond flakes into the top of each cookie and sprinkle with more cinnamon.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until bottoms are barely starting to brown.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool or about 10 minutes before dusting with icing sugar if desired.


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About Amber

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Hi, I'm Amber Trudeau.  I bake.... a lot.

I'm also vegan, and found that whenever I went out to a restaurant my dessert choices were limited to sorbet, sorbet, and sorbet.  So I started making my own desserts. I wanted them to taste good though - so my ultimatum was to make delicious desserts that also happen to be dairy-free and egg-free. Every week or so, I challenge myself to try something new.  To recreate some kind of traditional dessert that tastes amazing without using animal products.

Have a challenge for me? Send me a note:


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