Ma’amoul- Middle Eastern Cookies with Pistachios, Dates and Walnuts Fillings

Ma’amoul are small shortbread pastries filled with dates, pistachios and walnuts; sometimes almonds and Figs. They may be in the shape of balls or of domed or flattened cookies. They can either be decorated by hand or be made in special wooden molds.

My grandmother shared Ma’amoul cookie recipe to her children; daughter-in-laws and to my mother. Then, my mother shared the recipe to her daughters including me. Not a cook nor a baker but my sister does make it every holiday especially Christmas and she also, takes in orders to give as gifts. My family embraced the Filipino way of living while very little of the Middle Eastern culture except through food such as the cookie Ma’amoul. My mom said to keep it a secret as advised by my grandmother but with internet, you can pretty much get the recipe that way. One way to celebrate a heritage left and given by my grandmother through a cookie called Ma’amoul.

The Cast of Characters:

For the dough

  • 850g semolina or about 5.5 cups
  • 200g of ferkha (farina or potato starch) or about 1.5 cups
  • 450g of butter, melted
  • 250ml or 1 cup of orange blossom water
  • 200g of caster sugar or 1 cup
  • 1 teaspoon mahlab or fenugreek
  • 3 maamoul molds (oval for pistachios, circle for walnuts and the one that resembles the sun for dates)
  • Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Walnut Filling

  • 200g walnuts (about 2 cups)
  • 80g of sugar (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of orange blossom water

Pistachio Filling

  • 200g pistachios (about 2 cups)
  • 80g of sugar (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon of orange blossom water

Date Filling

  • 250g dates, pitted
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 50g of walnuts (about 1/2 cup

STEPS

  • Mix the semolina, farina, mahlab, sugar and butter together.
  • Now slowly add the orange blossom water a tablespoon at a time, kneading and working it into a soft sticky dough. It’s not supposed to stick to your fingers though. Cover the dough and let it sit 2 hours.
  • Knead dough one more time and then divide the dough into three even quantities.
  • Roll out each third into a long thin rod like form. Each third will be used for a filling.
  • Pinch off small lumps off the dough, pinched off about 1 inch pieces. Using the palm of your hand flatten the dough and make sure it is quite thin but not too thin that it will tear.
  • Place the flatten dough into the mold of choice and add the filling associated to that mold, gently pressing down and make sure it’s quite compact. Don’t exert too much pressure as you don’t want to tear the dough. You can use the mold you like for the filling you like but traditionally these molds and their designs have been used as standards so that one can determine the filling.

  •  Bring the edges together and seal well. Now pinch off any excess dough, gently remove from the mold and roll into a ball.
  • Dip the ball in farina and then press into the mold. Release by tapping the mold on the table to remove the ma’amoul cookie.
  • Your ma’amoul cookie should look like the below, clearly stamped with the design. Dust a baking tray with semolina or farina and bake in a preheated oven 400F/200C/6G until the sides are slightly pinkish in color. It will vary depending on oven. It took me about 20 mn. Leave aside to cool then sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

There are also two different ways to make these cookies. Others like to add the filling using the mold because they found it to yield more consistent results. However, you could just flatten the dough in the palm of your hand while making a hole in the paste then stuff it with the filling, seal the edges, roll it into a ball then finally press it into the molds for shape. And if you don’t have the molds, you could just use a fork to create design of choice that will differentiate the cookies from each other depending on filling.

Ma’amoul cookies with the date filling are not sprinkled with powdered sugar but it’s up to you. My sister sprinkles it with powdered sugar. Baking time will vary but Ma’amoul should spend the least time in the oven to avoid the drying. Therefore a hot oven is important to keeping their baking time short.

Ma’amoul cookies will keep, unrefrigerated but well sealed for up to one month, if they last longer than a day.

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7 Comments

  1. Thanks Christie and Anne..I was craving for the cookie earlier, that is why I decided to post about the cookie 😉

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  2. Thanks Andy, they are yummy!

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  3. Oh I miss these, they are yummy. You know I cannot read the whole recipe because the background image is very noisy. Just a suggestion 🙂

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    1. Thanks yeah..I had a hard time reading too..will change it soon…Love them….

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      Reply

      1. thanks! Now it looks so much better 😉

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      2. No shukran! I could not see either 😉

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