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A Delectable Maamoul Cookie
What are Lebanese Ma’amoul Cookies?
Lebanese date cookies or maamoul biscuits are a divine dessert. A beloved Lebanese tradition as per the cultural traditions is to serve these special treats on all special occasions and religious holidays. These include the end of Ramadan with Eid Al-Fitr, any Eid celebrations, Lent, Easter, and many other holiday celebrations or special events.
In fact, making these scrumptious, soft, date-filled cookies represents a huge family event in many Middle Eastern homes. Families gather to make big batches using ma’amoul mold presses to make the maamoul pastries.
The Lebanese aren’t the only ones making this yummy mamule pastry (Yes, it can be spelled in many many different ways!). Below are two other Middle Eastern variations that are just as good. Even the Greeks have their own version of this mamul cookie.
Although it’s not the easiest of the Lebanese Dessert delicacies to make, it’s not the most difficult either, even if it’s your first time making these delicious cookies.
The ma’mul cookie has been perfected through many different recipes. There are quite a few different ways to make it, yet playing around with the ingredients yields varying results, all good results, though. It’s also considered a type of art form to sculpt or shape these maamool cookies using special molds.
The Best Dessert for Any Occasion
A Clearer Description
Therefore, maamoul is basically a shortbread cookie with a traditional filling of dates. Its soft dough can vary from more fine semolina than wheat flour to baking powder as leavening, to yeast-based, to more all-purpose flour or pure flour (which incidentally would actually be kaak-another Arabian cookie).
However you make it, I can tell you one thing for sure: IT’S ADDICTIVE! I love having it with black coffee while many others enjoy it with their tea. It’s also a common practice in the Middle East to serve it with juice (particularly pineapple juice).
Variations of Middle Eastern Date Cookie
As I mentioned earlier, the Lebanese maamoul cookies are originally soft cookies with a date filling but have been adapted over the years. Let’s take a closer look at what these variations look like beginning from other Middle Eastern adaptations.
Egyptian Date Cookies
Ara’eesh Agwa, Agwa meaning thick date paste, is another name for a type of maamoul cookie. It’s a super popular pastry in Egypt, and just as popular in Syria. Of course, all over the Middle East, you can find something similar to date maamouls. Their preparation is easier in the sense that no maamoul mold is needed.
You basically roll out two pieces of the cookie dough into a rectangular form, layer them with date paste in the middle, and cut them out into mini-squares, or rectangles. You sprinkle some sesame seeds on top and bake until golden brown. It’s a light, heavenly snack.
Maamoul Cookies: A Perfect Blend of Tradition and Taste
Palestinian Maamoul Recipe
The Palestinian version of maamoul cookies is closer to a larger bread date ring. Basically, you roll out individual pieces of maamoul dough into rectangles, roll out your ajwa or date ball into a string shape with the palm of your hand, and place it on the center of the dough.
You roll the dough ball on a hard surface to close it over the date paste form and bring the two edges of the dough together to create a circular ring. You can also add sesame seeds to the outside if you’d like.
Middle Eastern Maamoul Mad Pastry
A Classic Middle Eastern Dessert
A Variety of Fillings
Sure, the most common filling in the authentic recipe is date paste, but you can choose another type of filling . The idea of the filling is that it has to be soft so that it can be molded along with the soft dough and cooked at the same temperature.
You can make a nut filling of these Middle Eastern cookies by making a walnut mix that can be similar to a paste. The same goes for maamoul cookies with a pistachio filling. You can even try your favorite dried fruits like figs or apricots, nutella or cookies’n’cream,.. as long you turn them into paste form. The options are endless.
A Middle Eastern Delight: Pistachio-Filled Maamoul Cookies
Healthy Maamoul Recipe
Also, you can use less sugar or a sugar substitute of your choice. Finally, you can opt out of the powdered sugar sprinkle at the end before serving. Oh, and stick to a date or fruit paste filling. To make this recipe vegan, you can use a plant-based butter or coconut oil.
Tips For the Best Maamoul Cookies
For added flavor, use Mahlab (can be found at a local Middle Eastern market) or a substitute like mixing mastic with a teaspoon of sugar.
It’s important to knead dough with fingers if you really want a super crumbly texture.
If you start to roll your dough into balls and it’s too soft, put it in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes.
Maamoul lasts on your kitchen counter (depending on indoor temperatures) anywhere from 3-7 days. It can be frozen in airtight container up to 2 months, but I recommend eating them fresh.
For a glossy look, you can brush the Lebanese maamoul cookies with egg whites or spray with your oil of choice before baking.
Crunchy and Nutty: Maamoul Cookies with Walnuts
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, surely! You can take a portion of the dough and make any shape you want. If you don’t have the special mold of the original maamoul recipe, you can create your own mold or use any available mold like muffin molds. You can also use any carved utensil as the mold face.
No, not necessarily! Maamoul is self-sweetened.
You can place it in a deep bowl and keep it covered with plastic wrap refrigerated to use it within 4 days. Make sure it is at room temperature the next time you want to work with it.
For the Dough
Flour: All-purpose flour works well. Just sift it well first.
Semolina: While semolina has various textures, choose fine semolina for this specific recipe.
Powdered sugar: It gives that soft texture of the cookies.
Baking powder: This is a rising agent that makes all the difference.
Rose water: It adds a unique fragrance to the dough. You can replace it with orange flower water, blossom water, or orange blossom water.
Date paste: You can either buy it ready-made or prepared at home. For the best paste, use Medjool dates.
Ground walnuts: Try not to make them finely ground for a crunchy taste.
Powdered sugar: It melts smoothly onto the other ingredients for a soft paste.
Rose water: It is necessary as a fragrance agent.
(Scroll down for more details in the recipe card.)
A Feast of Maamoul Cookies
Other Recipes You May Want to Try
- Date Filled Ka’ak
- Date Biscuit Nut Bars
- Tasty Date and Biscuit Balls
- Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Cookies
- No Bake Marshmallow Crunch Cookies
- No-Bake, Pumpkin Spice Energy Bites
- Homemade Peanut Butter Cups
- Healthy Oatmeal Date Bars
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
- Chocolate Quinoa Cookies
Lebanese Maamoul Cookies
- Maamoul mold
- 8 ounces Date paste
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a large cookie sheet with greased parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, add in all the dry ingredients, mix them, and then add in the soften butter, milk, and rosewater or blossom water.
- Using your hands, mix the dough together until it has totally formed into a big ball of grainy dough.
- You can begin using the dough immediately to fill in and shape your cookies.
- First, begin by forming a 2-inch ball of dough. With your index finger poke into the center of the round dough and gently form a deep hole enough to add the filling. Fill the center with a 1 inch ball of date paste or a spoonful of the ground pistachio or walnut mix. Gently fold in the dough and close it to form a ball again.
- Place the stuffed dough ball into the cookie mold and press down using the palm of your hand. Now, turn your mold and tap it firmly on to greased parchment paper until the cookie falls out.
- Repeat the steps to do the rest of your cookies with desired filling. Bake for 18-20 minutes then broil on high for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown.
- Dust all cookies with powdered sugar. Enjoy!
- For added flavor, use Mahlab (can be found at a local Middle Eastern market) or a substitute like mixing mastic with a teaspoon of sugar.
- It’s important to knead dough with fingers if you really want a super crumbly texture.
- If you don’t have the special wooden molds of maamoul, you can roll your dough into equal size balls with the palm of your hand and them press with tongs or a fork to make patterns of different shapes out of the filled dough.
- If you start to roll your dough into balls and it’s too soft, put it in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes.
- When it’s time to broil, keep a close eye on them so they don’t burn as they are sensitive.
- If you don’t mind the extra calories, ghee makes for a more crumbly semolina cookie and an enhanced nutty flavor. Use it instead of the butter.