13 December 2009


It is time, my friends, for that time of year. The time for cookie baking. There are currently boxes for 3 pounds of butter and 2 pounds of powdered sugar sitting in my recycling bin. The time for powdered sugar to fly and to use butter as a moisturizer, hand salve, packing material, and maybe for all those baked goods.

I've got bourbon balls and of course my mom's sugar cookies, and currently sitting on my counter are a lovely batch of ma'amoul. Ma'amoul are one of the most traditional of Middle Eastern cookies, made of a buttery semolina exterior and a date filling, they are shaped by pressing them into decorative molds. They are traditional for both Ramadan and Easter, and great for Christmas too.

The recipe comes together very quickly, with a dough with those whiffs of rose water and spices. The problem, at least in my case, was the molds. The first four or five cookies came out perfectly, and then they started to stick. I mean really stick, and fall apart, and there was a lot of damning and cursing and things that should not be said in the spirit of baking. Eventually I figured out that forming a ball of dough, filling it with the stuffing mixture, and then pressing it into the mold was the best technique. And if you don't have molds, you can always just use mini-muffin cups or simply do without.

So in addition to the family traditions, the requisite doses of chocolate and alcohol, my cookie assortment with have a little Middle Eastern flair this year.

While dates are traditional, you can experiment with different dried fruits. In this particular batch I used a mix of dates, dried figs, and hazelnuts for some added texture.

1/2 cup solid shortening (preferably a non-hydrogenated variety)
8 tablespoons or 4 ounces butter
1 cup flour, all purpose
2 cups semolina
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking power
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon rose flower water and
1 teaspoon orange flower water
7 tablespoons water

1 1/2 cups chopped dates (or other mixed dried fruit)
4 tablespoons butter

1. Prepare crust: Melt the shortening and butter in the microwave in a large bowl. Add the flour, semolina, salt baking powder and sugar and stir to combine. Add the rose and orange flower waters and gradually add the water, stirring to make a crumbly dough. Put the dough in the fridge to rest while you make the filling.
2. Place dates and butter in a saucepan and cook over low heat, mashing the dates with a fork. Cook about ten minuted, until dates are soft and mashed together. If the pan gets dry then add a splash of water.
3. Preheat oven to 325 F. Flatten a tablespoon of the semolina dough in the palm of your hand. Add a small amount of date filling. Fold up the semolina around the filling, adding a little more dough to enclose the ball. Roll into a ball and press into a mold, or simply place on a greased baking sheet and decorate the top with the tines of a fork.
4. Bake 12-15 minutes until solid but not darkened in color. Let cool, then shift powdered sugar over top.


Brittany (He Cooks She Cooks) said...

It is definitely time for baking. I made cookies from 2 until 8 p.m. today!

These sound great!

Lakshmi said...

Is shortening necessary? Can't we use additional butter? I don't have shortening at home...and want to make this ASAP... :)

Mercedes said...

Lakshmi- Sure you can definitely use all butter. I've done it before with good results. I think the reason the recipe calls for shortening is because it prevents the balls from spreading too much and imitates the traditional Arabic clarified butter. But by all means make these now!

Barbara said...

Beautiful! Dates would be perfect.

rachelino said...

To avoid using shortening (I was going to ask about that too!) but still prevent the cookies from spreading, you can just stick the cokie sheet in the freezer for 5-10 minutes (or the fridge for a bit longer). This will help them hold their shape.

Anonymous said...

I have a mold like your picture! Now I know what to use it for and have the RECIPE, I'll have to go borrow my son's oven, but I may just make these for our Christmas. Chrisq

Allie said...

Despite making ma'amoul with only samneh, mine always stick in the mold too. So now I always spray my mold with a little Pam at the beginning, and after every few cookies are molded. I find it makes the process much, much faster!

Sophicita said...

Mercedes, I just wanted to say I really enjoy your blog - my parents used to live in Rabat so I grew up with lots ok North African dishes and in particular Baklava! Rose Water, Orange Blossom Water and Cinnamon are staples in my pantry and Orange Blossom Water is certainly a key ingredient in my mum's fruit salad! Good luck with the Christmas cookie baking (I am currently doing the same!). Sophia

Anonymous said...

I LOVE the addition of hazelnuts! So smart. I have the exact same mold! Just posted my boring. basic recipe about amonth ago, but now I want to make some with hazelnuts! YUM!

Anonymous said...

You have a wonderful site. Thanks for sharing these recipes with us. My family are Jews from the Middle East, and many of these recipes make me think of my grandmother. She made the best Ma'amoul. :)

Cynthia said...

Nearly 35 years ago, as a student, I bought cookie molds like the one in your photo in the Arab quarter of Jerusalem. I was told they were cookie molds but had wondered what kinds of cookies you'd make in a deep, wooden paddle. Now I know -- and now, at last, I'll be able to use them. Thank you.

huda noor said...

الرائد من افضل شركات الخدمات المنزلية في المملكة وخدماتها تغطى كل المنطقة العربية للمزيد قم بزيارة
شركة تنظيف خزانات بمكة شركة تنظيف خزانات بمكة
افضل شركة تنظيف منازل بالمدينة المنورة افضل شركة تنظيف منازل بالمدينة المنورة
افضل شركة تنظيف بمكة بالبخار افضل شركة تنظيف بمكة بالبخار
شركة نقل عفش من جدة الى الاردن شركة نقل عفش من جدة الى الاردن
شركة تنظيف مجالس بمكة شركة تنظيف مجالس بمكة

Background Removal said...

Background Removal Services (BRS) is one of the best Clipping path service provider around the world. We offer our global customers: Raster to Vector Services, Photo Restoration Services Prices, Photo Neck Joint Service, Exposure Color Correction Service, Jewelry Photo, Retouching Services, Photo Color Correction Service, Image Mirror Effect Service, Cheap Retouching Services, Deep Etching Service,

Transport company in Taif said...

أفضل شركة نقل في الطائف والنجارين في إعمار في تفكيك وتركيب الأثاث

Transport company in Medina said...

أفضل شركة نقل في المدينة المنورة والنجارين المبهرين في تفكيك وتركيب الأثاث والمفروشات.

Turbo Steam said...

Turbo Steam is a powerful, yet portable, fabric and clothes steamer for all of your steaming needs. Our Turbo Steam takes only 45 seconds to heat up and to start generating steam and its steam delivery system evenly distributes steam across fabrics to remove even the worst wrinkles.

Image background remover said...

Using the Images Background Remover service, you can get the best possible solutions. The photos will be livelier and you can use them anywhere. The importance of Background Remover Online is undeniable for every photo. Before we move to the benefits of having the service, it is better to know about the service.

Clipping Path Service Provider said...

In other sense, the clipping path is like creating a path that will remove the bars from the photo. As the name suggests, it clips a path. It points that the path that you not need gets clipped. The ClippingPath Service Provider is able to bring the change in the photos. Applying the Photoshop tool, the provider does the task.

Best Massager Reviews said...

Read the Best Massager Reviews of 2019 Find out which is the best model on the market and the health benefits of using a Best Massager Reviews.

prom dress hut said...

Prom Dress Hut is a prom dresses company. If you are looking for a prom dress, check out our Latest Prom Dress Collection. You can order from Prom Dresses USA, Prom Dresses UK, Prom Dresses Australia, Prom Dresses Canada, and Prom Dresses Germany.

Foot Massager Reviews said...

Read the best Foot Massager Reviews of 2019 Inthe following article, we present the top 8 models available today and revealtheir pros and cons.

Photo Editing Pricing said...

Photo Editing Pricing value on the images editing requirements. The exact price of you use can vary greatly. Depending on the vendor/contractor, the complexity of the image editing volume of images and how quickly you need the edited photos back Forget an idea about our prices you can check our Photo Editing Price List

Clipping Path Service said...

Perfect Clipping path service means a lot to this professional business purpose. Do Visit to have more knowledge about photo clipping path.