Ma’amoul are small shortbread pastries filled with dates, pistachios or walnuts (or occasionally almonds, figs, or other fillings). They are popular in Levantine cuisine and in the Gulf countries. 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 moulds. Ma’amoul with date fillings are often known as menenas, and are sometimes made in the form of date rolls rather than balls or cookies.
Many households keep a stock of them all year round, but they are particularly used on religious festivals. Muslims eat them at night during Ramadan and on the Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha holidays, and Arabic-speaking Christians eat them at Easter. They are very popular in Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and other Levantine countries, and highly demanded in the Gulf States, where you can find packed and commercial versions of the pastry. [wiki]
Ever since i have been in middle east i have always thought of how these mouth melting cookies are made and finally i found once convincing recipe .
For the dough:
- 9 cups semolina or 1500 g
- 1½ cups butter or 300 g, melted
- 1½ cups ghee or 300 g, melted
- 1 cup caster sugar or 200 g
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground mahlab(refer Notes)
- 1 teaspoon instant dried yeast
- ¾ cup rose water or 190 ml
- ¼ cup blossom water or 60 ml
For the filling:
- 750 g date, dried, pitted and chopped
- ¼ cup butter or 50 g
- 1 tin condensed milk or 397 g
- In a bowl, combine semolina, butter, ghee, sugar, nutmeg, mahlab, and yeast. Mix well. Cover tightly and set aside for at least 4 hours.
- In a bowl, knead the dates with butter, gradually adding condensed milk while kneading. Place in fridge for ½ hour.
- Add rose water and blossom water to the dried mixture, knead by hands until the dough starts to hold together or forms a paste. If necessary, add a small amount of rose water.
- Remove a small piece of dough and flatten it with your hands and place a teaspoonful of the filling. Close carefully to form a ball.
- Press the stuffed dough into a wooden maamoul mold to form a pattern on the upper side of the dough.
- Tap out onto an cookie sheet that is not greased and bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly colored but not browned.
Mahlab or mahlepi is an aromatic spice made from the seeds of the St Lucie Cherry. The cherry stones are cracked to extract the seed kernel, which is about 5 mm diameter, soft and chewy on extraction, but ground to a powder before use. The flavour is similar to a combination of bitter almond and cherry.Mahlab kernels are light brown in color and they resemble small almonds in shape.How to select: You can find Mahlab in arabic and greek stores, usually sold in small bottles (Information courtesy: Sawsan from chefindisguise)