Ma’amoul, Date-Filled Cookies

Muzna Bishara

12 hours resting time + 2 hours

50 cookies

Photo by Matan Choufan

During the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, is it customary to serve meat that’s shared with family and poor members of the community. Ma’amoul, date-filled cookies, are a common dessert for the holiday. Serve them alongside tea or coffee.

Ingredients

  • 1.1 lb / 500 grams semolina 
  • 10.5 ounces (2.5 sticks) / 300 grams butter, melted
  • 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon / 125 grams flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon mastiha ground with 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground mahleb
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup / 120ml milk or water
  • 4 tablespoons rose water, orange blossom water or a mixture of both (can be substituted with milk or water)
  • For the date filling:
  • 1.1 lb / 500 grams vacuum-packed dates, pitted
  • 3.5 ounces / 100 grams chopped walnuts, or 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • A pinch of ground nutmeg
  • A pinch of ground cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon oil or soft butter
  • For the walnut filling:
  • 1.1 lb / 500 grams chopped walnuts or pistachios, or a mixture of both
  • ½ cup / 100 grams sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • Zest of 1 orange

Preparation

  1. Mix the semolina with the melted butter in a large bowl, rubbing them together between the palms of your hands for 10 minutes until well combined. Cover and let rest overnight.
  2. The following day add the flour, salt, mastiha and mahleb to the mixture and gently rub with your hands. Add the sugar, rose water or orange blossom water and mix well.
  3. Add the milk gradually, 1 tablespoon at a time, and gently knead. Take care not to over work the dough or the ma’amoul will be hard as a rock. Add milk until the dough holds together without crumbling. Cover and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the fillings: For the date filling, mix the dates, walnuts, and spices into a paste. Roll into small balls the size of a grape, each weighing approximately 0.5 ounces / 15 grams. Grease your hands with oil or butter if the mixture is too sticky. For the walnut filling, combine all the ingredients to a paste.
  1. Prepare the ma’amoul: Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Roll the dough into balls the size of a walnut weighing approximately 0.7 ounces / 20 grams. 
  2. Place a dough ball in the palm of your hand and flatten it. Place a date ball or 1 teaspoon of the walnut filling in the center, bring the edges to cover and gently roll into a ball. The secret to a good ma’amoul is the ratio of thin dough to the rich filling.
  3. Shape the ma’amoul: this can be done using a mold, with the help of special pincher, or using a fork. Place the shaped ma’amoul in the baking tray and repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
  4. Bake 10-15 minutes. The ma’amoul should remain pale and lightly golden on the bottom. Cool to room temperature, and not a second less. 
  5. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

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