Ma’amouls – A Celebration Cookie

Post image for Ma’amouls – A Celebration Cookie

by Sara on February 3, 2012

Food is our common ground, a universal experience – James Beard

Sometimes “Life” does get in the way. As I sit and attempt to write my first blog post in ten months, I realize how much I have missed my blog and my readers. It  feels so good to be back in the food blogging world, I have missed you all dearly.
I thought about which recipe to post after such a long time, so I came up with ma’amouls. Ma’amouls happen to be one of my all time favorite cookie, especially with a hot cup of sweet mint tea!  I call ma’amouls an Arabic celebration cookie which is loved by Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike. Since my blog is based on food plus cultures equals love, tolerance & humanity.  I thought ma’amouls were a perfect start to my ten months hiatus.
The definition of the the Arabic word ma’moul is “filled.” It is a small rounded pastry made with decorative wooden hand carved molds called tabe’; pictured above. The nut filling is inserted into a hollow shell in the pastry and then closed. The filled pastry is then placed inside the mold. I learned this great art of filling the ma’amouls from a wonderful blog called Tony Tahhan. Tony demonstrates beautifully how to mold the cookies in the tabe’. I found Tony’s instructions and pictures extremely helpful while making my batch of these delicious Ma’amouls.
When the ma’amouls are baked, the embossed design becomes more prominent and very beautiful. I followed Tony’s recipe step by step and found it surprisingly very easy to follow. I have to admit I was a little shy about baking ma’amouls, but I was determined to shape them properly in the molds. I was able to find these gorgeous wooden ma’amoul molds at my local Syrian grocers along with all of the ingredients including mahlab. Mahlab is an aromatic spice made from seeds of a St.Lucie Cherry. The cherry stones are then cracked to extract the seed kernel and then ground to a powder consistency. The flavor is similar to bitter almond & cherry. If you cannot find these decorative molds you can certaily mold the cookies by hand into a ball and then decorate them using a fork to create a design. I hope you will try making these delicious cookies on your festive holiday. I would like to thank Tony Tahan for this beautiful recipe. I love your blog, Tony!
Ma’amouls ~ A Celebration Cookie ~ filled with Dates & Walnuts
  • 1  1/4 cup farina (cream of wheat)* 
  • 1/2 cup  fine semolina
  • 1/2 cup  pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 stick + 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of milk, hot
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp orange blossom water
  • 1 tbsp mahlab, ground
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • powdered sugar, for garnish
  1. Mix 1 stick of the melted butter in with the farina and semolina and knead until well mixed. Cover and let sit over night.
  2. To make the filling process the pitted dates & walnuts with the remaining tbsp of melted butter, 2 tsp of orange blossom water, and half of the ground mahlab in your food processor until it becomes a smooth paste.
  3. Once the butter has soaked into the semolina add the remaining of the ingredients, except the hot milk.
  4. Pour half cup of the hot milk and mix well to form a dough. The dough should be smooth and moist; if it feels a bit dry continue adding more milk.
  5. Form each cookie with a mold or freehand as shown in the photo above (by hiding a ball of the date filling inside the dough).
  6. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a 325 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown.
  7. Cool the cookies on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with powdered sugar for garnish.




{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Soma February 3, 2012 at 3:52 am

Missed your posts!! So good to see you back :) These are one of my favorite cookies and there are not really many cookies that I am attached to. But these are diff. I remember Tony’s post on the cookies. Yours look perfect. The shape is beautiful. I need to find myself a mould.

Lynn February 3, 2012 at 7:26 pm

These are beautiful cookies Sara and I love the wooden mold. First time I’ve seen a Tabe. Uhoh, another item on my list to search for ;-)

Tony February 4, 2012 at 12:25 am

Welcome back, Sara! Beautiful post — your ma’amoul look delicious :)

shayma February 4, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Our friend Soma is right- we missed your posts. I love these biscuits- I use Claudia Roden’s foolproof recipe. I want to steal your moulds. Welcome back, S, lovely post after your hiatus. x s

Sara February 4, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Thank you friends! It feels great to be back! xx

Nadia February 5, 2012 at 12:48 am

yayyyyyy! so glad you’re back. :) keep the posts comin’. maybe then you’ll inspire me to not be such a lazy bum! ;)

Sara February 6, 2012 at 5:30 am

Thanks Nadsss! xo you are not a lazy bum.

Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen February 7, 2012 at 8:56 am

Glad to see you back in action, and tempting us with a sweet treat!

Xean February 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm

hmmm.. cookies are one of my favorites, looks so delicious! I love the twist. :)

Karen February 8, 2012 at 6:50 pm

I’m making these in my ‘Cooking with the Bible’ class, tonight!

Kulsum at JourneyKitchen February 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Welcome back darling! I love love mamoul and my recipe is recipe to yours! Wish someone would make it for me regularly :-)

Faith February 10, 2012 at 3:09 am

Welcome back, Sara! It’s so good to see a post from you…and great choice with the Ma’amoul for your first post back! It’s one of my absolute favorites. :)

Sumayya Jamil February 10, 2012 at 10:15 pm

oh lovely, yes I just love ur molds!! this recipe is lovely!

Lora February 11, 2012 at 2:21 am

ciao Sara! So nice to see your beautiful post:) Love the molds and these cookies are divine.xx

alan berger February 12, 2012 at 9:15 pm

I love your photos. You have a very good eye.

Lani February 13, 2012 at 12:15 am

Thanks so much for the beautiful photos and great recipe. I think I am going to have to get one of those molds!! I missed your blog terribly…is there a way I can get updates when you post something new? Thanks.

Ambika February 24, 2012 at 12:26 am

Beautiful cookies, love the filling! Just discovered your blog and its lovely!!

Sara Hafiz February 24, 2012 at 4:43 am

Thank you everyone for visiting & for your sweet comments! xx

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