Maamoul date cookies

Maamoul date cookies

Maamoul are Lebanese date cookies made with semolina. Try food writer Angela Zaher’s family recipe for these pretty biscuits with a fragrant rosewater dough and sweet pistachio and date filling.

Maamoul date cookies

Angela’s story: A solicitor turned food and fiction writer, Angela was born in Beirut and writes about our emotional connection to food, often inspired by her childhood in Lebanon. She’s lived in Brussels and Hong Kong, and has been based in London for more than 20 years. Connect with her on Instagram @angela_zaher

  • Serves icon Makes about 20
  • Time icon Hands-on time 50 min, plus overnight resting and 1-2 hours rising. Oven time 25 min.

Maamoul are Lebanese date cookies made with semolina. Try food writer Angela Zaher’s family recipe for these pretty biscuits with a fragrant rosewater dough and sweet pistachio and date filling.

Angela’s story: A solicitor turned food and fiction writer, Angela was born in Beirut and writes about our emotional connection to food, often inspired by her childhood in Lebanon. She’s lived in Brussels and Hong Kong, and has been based in London for more than 20 years. Connect with her on Instagram @angela_zaher

Nutrition: per serving

Calories
212kcals
Fat
10.8g (5.6g saturated)
Protein
3.3g
Carbohydrates
24.6g (13.6g sugars)
Fibre
1.2g
Salt
0.1g

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 300g fine semolina
  • 150g unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 75g caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp ground mahlab or 2-3 drops almond extract
  • 25ml rosewater
  • 25ml orange blossom water
  • 1 tsp fast-action yeast

For the date filling

  • 300g pitted dried dates, puréed (see Know How)
  • 50g unsalted butter
  •  1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 100g shelled pistachios, crushed (optional)

Specialist kit

  • Tweezers (optional)
  • Wooden maamoul moulds (available from
    etsy.com; optional)
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Method

  1. The night before you want to make these, put the semolina in a bowl and stir in the melted butter, mixing well. Cover the bowl and leave overnight at room temperature.
  2. The next day, mix in the salt, sugar, mahlab (or almond extract), rosewater and orange blossom water. Dissolve the yeast in 50ml warm water, set aside for 15 minutes, then stir into the mixture. Cover the bowl and leave for 1-2 hours at room temperature before using.
  3. In a saucepan over a gentle heat, warm the dates, butter and cinnamon, stirring until the butter is melted and the mixture is malleable and smooth (about 10 minutes). Set aside.
  4. Roll the dough into small balls – roughly 30g each – and put them in a clean bowl. Make the equivalent number of balls from the date filling, each roughly 20g, and put in a separate clean bowl. You should have about 20 balls of each, or at least equal numbers.
  5. Carefully insert a ball of date filling into a ball of dough by flattening the dough in the palm of your hand, then shaping it around the filling. The dough needs to envelop the date filling until you end up with a filled sphere with any joins gently sealed. If you’re aiming for the traditional doughnut shape, use your finger to create a hole in the middle of the filled ball as you squash it into a round cookie. This can then be decorated using tweezers or simply the prongs of a fork, pressing them several times around the pastry to make groove impressions. Alternatively (and undoubtedly the most fun), gently push the filled ball into a wooden maamoul mould, then bash out onto a clean work surface. A third way is to leave the maamoul in a spherical shape and coat them with crushed pistachios. For this, put the pistachios on a shallow plate and roll the filled spheres in the crushed nuts.
  6. Heat the oven to 160°C fan/ gas 4. Arrange the maamoul on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 25 minutes or until just beginning to brown on the base and very top. Leave to cool before eating

Nutrition

Calories
212kcals
Fat
10.8g (5.6g saturated)
Protein
3.3g
Carbohydrates
24.6g (13.6g sugars)
Fibre
1.2g
Salt
0.1g

delicious. tips

  1. Easy swaps: You can replace the rosewater with extra orange blossom water if you prefer.

  2. You need to start the recipe the night before. You can also make and roll the date filling into balls a day in advance, then store in an airtight container in the fridge. You can freeze the assembled maamoul – make them to the end of step 5, then freeze. Allow to defrost before baking

  3. You can buy blocks of puréed, pitted dates from most Middle Eastern grocers, or you can measure out 300g pitted whole dates and use a food processor or blender to whizz them into a purée yourself.

    Mahlab (or mahleb) is a spice made from ground cherry seeds, which lends an almond-like flavour to the cookies.

Buy ingredients online

Recipe By

Angela Zaher

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