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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.