Left: Helpful store clerk at Golden Market demonstrates how to fill the Ma'amoul mold using a tissue as a prop. Right: The completed Ma'amoul cookies.
Recipe made about 20 large sized ma’amoul. The amount depends on the size of the mold. Mine is large.
This forager was in full force yesterday. I began by buying dates at Aladdin Nut House and continued onto Golden Market. As I was hunting around for the wooden mold used in these filled cookies, another shopper came over to discuss the various shapes and their meaning. “My husband’s family say the lozenge shapes are for pistachios, the round for dates and walnuts.” I admitted that I was new to this cookie tradition, but was interested in trying out the various recipes pulled from the Internet. Hers, she said firmly, was the best, drawn from a number of sources virtual and personal. And so-I became a food/recipe stalker, following Ashkgyn as she showed me the semolina, the farina, and the already blended date paste in the shop’s refrigerator. Her advice gave me courage, as did the ten other recipes I found. Some said to use yeast, others were a simpler shortbread (made more texturally coarse, yet lighter) by using semolina. Some indicated a slow bake at 325 for 30 minutes, another a quick, hot bake.
Here is my version of Ma’Amoul, with gratitude to more traditional versions and Ashkgyn, the friendly shopper who so helpfully guided me.
Ingredients For the Crust
- 2 ½ cups semolina
- ½ cup farina
- ½ cup flour
- 15 Tbs. unsalted butter, clarified, melted, and cooled (or you can use ghee)
- 3 Tbs. powdered sugar
- ½ tsp. Kosher salt
- 1/3 cup cream or whole milk
- 2 Tbs. rose water
- 2 Tbs. grated orange rind or even better, minced candied orange peel
Ingredients for the Filling
- 8 oz. date paste (can be purchased at Golden Market in Pasadena and other Armenian or Middle Eastern stores throughout Los Angeles).
- 1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
- ½ cup walnuts (coarsely or finely chopped), optional
- With a hand-held mixer, beat the cooled clarified butter until opaque and light yellow in color and somewhat thickened.
- With a rubber spatula, add the clarified butter to a food processor along with the semolina, farina, flour, sugar and salt. Pulse until you see pea sized crumbles. Add cream or milk, the rose water and orange peel until a dough is formed. This will be very short dough so don’t worry if you have trouble working with it. Flatten dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least two hours or overnight. Well before using the dough, bring back to room temperature.
- In the meantime, mix date paste and cinnamon and, if you wish, the walnuts with your hands, as it is too thick to be combined easily in a food processor. Divide the filling into about 20 small balls. I oil my hands, which allows me to handle the paste without it sticking.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Pull off enough dough to fill the interior of the mold, leaving enough space for the date ball filling. As my crust is quite short, I just press the dough firmly into the mold. Push the date ball down to fill the space and add a bit more dough to seal the filling. Turn the mold over and rap it quickly and with conviction against your counter to release the filled dough. These cookies can be placed close together on a baking sheet as they do not spread. Bake on a parchment covered jelly roll pan or baking sheet for about 15 minutes. Ma’moul should be pale on the top but somewhat golden brown on the bottom.
- The most practical advice came from the checker at Family Grocery. Oil your mold generously with vegetable oil and let it sit until absorbed into the wood. Do this every time you make Ma'amoul and you will have no trouble releasing these gorgeous little packets of goodness.