What is Maamoul
Maamoul is a small ball or dome-shaped Middle Eastern pastry with a slightly crumbly crust that is stuffed with a sweet chewy filling. There are three types of traditional maamoul fillings – dates, walnuts and pistachios. Each of these has a different shape so even without biting into it, you can tell what the filling will be inside just by looking at the shape itself. Walnut filled maamouls are generally dome shaped with a rounded top, whereas the date filled versions are dome shaped with a flat top and the pistachio filled variety has an elongated oval shape. Very rarely, figs or almonds are also used for the filling.
Maamouls are relatively easy to make and are often prepared and baked at home. They are shaped using a wooden maamoul mold. Most Arab households will have these molds in different shapes. The type of filling that is going to be used will determine which shape mold will be chosen for that particular batch.
Here’s an easy recipe for anyone who would love to try their hand at preparing a batch of delicious Arabic date cookies.
Ingredients & Preparation
Makes 25 Maamoul
- 2 cups semolina
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 8 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup solid shortening (any fat that is solid at room temp)
- ¼ cup sugar (granulated)
- 1 ½ cup macerated dates for the filling
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon orange flower water
- 2 tablespoon rose water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 7 tablespoons water
Sift semolina, flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Add solid shortening, water, orange flower water and rose water and mix together by hand.
Cover dough and let it rest for 1 to 3 hours.
Take a small ball of dough and stuff the center of the ball with the date filling. Close up the open end. Place the filled ball of dough into a dome shaped mold. Make sure the mold is floured first so the dough does not stick. Rap the mold on the work table to remove the cookie.
Bake cookies for 20 minutes at 350° temperature.
To make walnut or pistachio filling, simply mix together 1 ½ cup finely chopped pistachios or walnuts, 2 tablespoons orange flower water, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon and ¼ cup sugar.
Who Eats It?
Almost all Arabic households keep a stock of these cookies all year round to be served anytime a guest comes over. The smaller bite-sized cookies are served any time of the day with tea or coffee whereas medium and larger sized varieties are usually served as dessert after meals.
Serving maamoul during religious festivals is a must. No festival is considered complete without them. The Christians in the region serve them at Easter and the Muslims nibble on these delicious cookies at night during the Ramadan season. The Lebanese enjoy nut filled maamouls for Purim and the Jews serve it at Hanukkah and Rosh Hashanah.