Ma'amoul Cookies (Date Filled Cookies)
Updated: Dec 15, 2019
Ma'amoul (also spelled m'aamoul, m'amul, m'aamul) are an Arab cookie that dates back to ancient times. It is a filled pastry or cookie made with dates, nuts (pistachios,walnuts, almonds, or figs). They may be in the shape of balls, domed or flattened cookies.They can either be shaped and 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. Ma'amoul are usually made a few days before Christmas, Easter, or Eid, then stored to be served with Arabic coffee and chocolate to guests who come during the holiday. It is popular throughout the Arab world, especially in the Arabian peninsula.*
Makes about 32 cookies
1/2 cup ghee or butter, grass fed, melted
1/4 cup light olive oil or butter/ghee, melted
2 ½ cups all purpose flour (may use half whole wheat pastry flour)
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp rose water or orange flower water
3 tbsp milk (start with 2 and add as needed)
2/3 lb dates medjool, soft, pitted, chopped (or ready made date paste-check for pit fragments)
Finely ground almond meal
Stir together butter and oil; mix in sugar. Add flour, combine with your fingers. Add as much flour as the mixture will absorb-- this may vary from 2 ¼ to 2 ½ cups.
Add rose water; mix in. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time. Knead into a pliable dough. After adding milk, dough may be sticky and look like it's too wet.Keep mixing it in,the milk will be absorbed. Let dough rest for 30 mins. Then roll out 32 portions of the dough into smooth balls.
Process dates in a food processor until smooth. Divide date mixture into 32 portions; roll them into smooth balls. Use oil or gloves if needed, if mixture is too sticky.
Take a dough ball and flatten it. Hold it in the center of your palm and cup it. Place a date ball in the center. Bring the edges of the dough together. Pinch the dough to seal well and then flatten it out. Press it into a disc. Cookies will crack if they have too much filling.
Use a nut pick or fork to create interesting patterns. Or press the date filled cookie dough into a traditional ma'amoul mold and gently press to get the pattern on the cookie. Invert and tap the front edge of the mold onto a hard surface like a kitchen counter, and hold your palm under the mold to get the cookie that is released from the mold.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place cookies smooth side up (hand shaped cookies) or the patterned side up ( cookies made with the mold), on a large baking sheet. Place 1-2 in. apart. Bake for 15 - 20 mins. Do not overbake. Well baked cookies appear dry and have a light tan.
Cool completely. Use a sieve to dust with powdered sugar or a combination of the sugar with almond meal. Store in an airtight container.