Ma'amoul is a butter and semolina cookie stuffed with dates (or pistachios or walnuts) and baked to perfection. Ma'amoul is how Arabs welcome religious holidays, like Eid or Christmas, all over the world.
My family's tradition is to make ma'amoul a few days before Eid. I remember as a little girl, my mom and aunts would gather at my grandparents house to help my grandma make ma'amoul. I would eagerly watch as they filled, shaped, and baked hundreds of cookies. After what would seem like days, really just a few hours, I would get to sprinkle powdered sugar over my ma'amoul and bite into it while it was still warm.
My grandma's recipe (which I still haven't been able to write exact measurements for) is made entirely with semolina. No flour at all. Now when you make ma'amoul with only semolina, you need to soak the semolina in the butter, or ghee, 2 days before you shape and bake them. I've tried way too many times and I've never been able to keep their shape with just semolina. Instead, I add a small amount of all-purpose flour to the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes, not 2 days, and it comes out amazing! Let me tell you, it's taken me years to perfect this recipe. And let me tell you, it's PERFECT!
This ma'amoul dough comes together so quickly. All the ingredients get added to the stand mixer, or bowl, and combined into a beautiful, soft dough. I let it rest for about 10 minutes before I begin to work with it.
Ma'amoul is definitely not hard to make - it's just very time consuming. You'll need to give yourself a good 3 hours to prep and bake the cookies.
Now, before you make the dough, it's very important that you prep the dates. You can do this step up to 2 days beforehand. I just mix the spices with the dates, roll them into balls and cover them with plastic wrap until I'm ready to use them.
You begin by measuring out your dough. I find that the perfect ratio is 1 tablespoon of dough to 1.5 teaspoons of date mix. It's the perfect amount of cookie to date ratio. Begin by flattening your dough into a circle and then wrapping the date ball with the cookie dough and forming a ball.
Now, at this step, you can either shape the dough using metal tongs or by using a ma'amoul mold (you can find these at any Middle Eastern grocery store, or on Amazon). Stuff the cookie ball into the ma'amoul mold and then remove from the mold and you'll have a beautifully shaped ma'amoul.
Bake the ma'amoul for 25 minutes, or until lightly golden.
When ready to serve, sprinkle powdered sugar on top and enjoy with a cup of coffee.
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
3 cups Semolina
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup high-quality butter
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/3 cup warm whole milk
1 tablespoon mahlab
1 package of baking dates
1.5 teaspoon cinnamon
1.5 teaspoon ground anise
1 tablespoon ground fennel
1/4 cup vegetable oil (or mild tasting oil)
1) To prep the dates, you will need to combine the baking dates, cinnamon, ground anise, ground fennel, and vegetable oil. Knead well and roll into 1.5 teaspoon balls. Place on a tray and set aside. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.
2) In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the semolina, flour, sugar, salt, butter, yeast and mahlab. Mix until combined.
3) Slowly add in the milk and water. Mix on medium for a few minutes until well combined. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
4) Measure the dough using a small cookie scoop (about 1.5 tablespoons) and place on a tray. Flatten each ball of dough and place a ball of dates in the middle. Wrap the dough around the dates, making sure that the dates are completely covered with dough, and place on a tray. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough.
5) Place the dough ball into a ma'amoul mold and lightly press it in. Tap it against a hard surface until the ma'amoul is released from the mold. Place bake on the baking tray.
6) Bake at 350*F for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly golden.
7) Let cool completely. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature.
8) When ready to serve, sprinkle powdered sugar on top and enjoy. Sahtain!
- To make the process easier, make sure to prep the dates in advance. You can do this step up to 2 days in advance. Make sure to cover the dates until ready to use.
- If you're doubling or tripling the dough, I recommend that you only mix the dough batch by batch because the yeast will lose it's effectiveness overtime.
- You can store the ma'amoul in an air-tight container at room temperature for about 1 month.