Ma’amoul (Shortbread Cookies With Dates)

What a wonderful time of year! A time in which many feel enormous gratitude and happiness. The long, yet too short month of Ramadan is over, and its time to celebrate with family and friends. Ma’amoul is a traditional dessert served. It goes perfect with tea, as I am enjoying the combination right now. Eating it is as important as the preparation stage. In some places, droves of women will gather in common areas and spread their blankets out and together, prepare the dish. While I didn’t have the pleasure of such, my experience this year was surely just as nice.

As a new wife, I am happily getting to know new family. Family with rich experiences, stories, and skills, have only just begun to unfold around me, and my heart is wide open. I vow to never let trivial squabbles ever come between us, we will not argue over money, and let’s never hold a grudge.  This is my Eid wish for me and my new family, and yours too! Now for the Ma’amoul courtesy of a beautiful woman, my new friend,  hard-working mother of three.

Pictures provided at the end of the recipe come from the oldest son(age 8), who borrowed my phone to snap some pictures, lending well to the atmosphere of our particular experience.

Enjoy and Eid Mubarak! (Happy Eid!)

Dough ingredients

9 cups semolina flour

3 cups Butter (or Crisco, yellow with butter flavor)

3/4 cups Mazola oil or canola

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Day Two Dough Ingredients:

Freshly ground anise

A couple of pinches of yeast

Warm water

Filling ingredients

Date paste (You can make your own using dates, but we used a package):

One teaspoon of butter

A pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg

Step One: Prepare the dough one day ahead

Combine the dry ingredients, then add melted butter (not hot) and oil. Mix the ingredients very well, cover, and let stand. Your dough should feel very powdery to the touch and somewhat dry. The next day,  it is ready to be used.

You will now add your Day 2 ingredients (a couple of pinches of yeast, a pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg and a splash of warm water.

Step Two: Add Day 2 ingredients to your dough

The water should only be slightly warm, not hot. Now you are ready to mix the dough with your hands. Add water until your dough can be easily molded. Set aside for two hours in a warm place.

Step Three: Prepare your pliable dough and let sit for 2 hours

While you wait for your dough to rise a little, you can make the filling. Add the ingredients and mix together.

Step Four: Prepare your date filling

Mold your filling into small balls about the circumference of a nickel.

Step five: Shape your filling

When your dough is ready, it’s time to mold your cookies. Pluck a bit of dough, just enough to cover your filling. Roll into a ball and then press an indent with your thumb.

Step 6: Shape your cookies around the filling

Round out the cookie and press your forefinger into the middle and rotate.

Rotate your thumb around while keeping your forefinger in the middle until you have a small ring

Fill an entire pan, and let sit covered for 20 minutes.

Step 7: Cover your cookies and let sit for 20 minutes

Now they are ready for the oven.  Pop them in at 350 degrees for about 11 minutes. If they seem to be able to use some browning, turn on the low broil for a minute or two.

Once they are completely cool, dust powdered sugar over them or leave plain.

Powdered Ma’amoul

Another option for molding your cookies is to use a cookie cutter that is traditional and recognizable. Ma’amoul can have other fillings, so this shape help identifies your favorite one when it’s time to enjoy.

Shape cookie and flatten into cookie cutter, pound out by tapping table

Traditional shape: Date cookie

Extra Step (Walnut Filled Cookies)

Other traditional fillings include walnuts or pistachios, and also have a particularly recognizable shape. We also made a couple of pans of walnut cookies, using the same dough.

Mix dry ingredients for walnut filling

The filling is very sticky, it includes walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, honey, and simple syrup. Do not add anise, as this is only for the date cookies.

Mix wet ingredients into walnut filling

Mold your dough, press into your cookie cutter, and bake

Well, what a day making such delicious  cookies, I hope you enjoy making them in your home. Don’t forget to take time and enjoy your company. Until next time!


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2 thoughts on “Ma’amoul (Shortbread Cookies With Dates)

    • They really are good. Hot tea sometimes needs a dessert that isn’t sweet, but something else truly delightful. Also they are special, really only made on Eid. Soon I would like to post about a traditional dish from Jordan, called Mensaf (Lamb stew). This is also a special dish, and I have never met someone whose face didn’t light up at the mention of it. So good! Stay tuned and thanks for stopping by.

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