Making Maamoul at Easter is a ritual. It is also a convivial occupation for people to get together and prepare the crumbly, sweet and fragrant pastries. Time consuming they are love in a bite.
They can be filled with dates, pistachios, walnuts or almonds. Carved wooden molds with varied designs are the oldest and easiest way to form the pastries. The shapes of the molds help identify the filling: oblong for pistachio, flat and round for dates, dome top for walnuts or almonds.
900 g coarse semolina
100 g fine semolina
500 g butter
2 tablespoon rose water
1 teaspoon, Mahlep or Mahlab
2 to 3 tablespoons warm milk
100 g icing sugar
For the date filling:
500 g pitted dates
2 teaspoons orange blossom water
2 teaspoons rose water
50 g butter
For the pistachio filling:
250 g shelled pistachios
100 g sugar
2 tablespoons rose water
- Place the semolina and mahlab in a large mixing bowl and make a well in its center.
- Melt the butter on very low heat making sure it does not boil.
- Gradually incorporate the melted butter into the semolina and combine with a spoon. Add rosewater and knead for about 5 minutes. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rest overnight.
- For the date filling: place the dates, butter and flavorings in a food processor and blend until the mixture is a sticky paste.
- For the pistachio filling: place the pistachio in a food processor and grind coarsely. Incorporate sugar and rose water.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
- Warm the milk and add it to the crumbly semolina mixture.
- Knead for a good ten minutes, until the butter softens and the dough becomes soft and malleable. Kneading is essential to help you form the cookies with ease.
- Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and set aside.
- Take some dough and form a ping pong sized round.
- With your forefinger make a small hole and fill it with a ½ teaspoon of date mixture or ground pistachio.
- Pinch the dough together to close.
- Press, very lightly, the maamoul dough ball inside the mold. To take the maamoul out, hold the mold with one hand and place the other hand under the maamoul; tap the mold to release the pastry into the palm of your hand.
- As you progress into the preparation, the molds will become sticky you can clean them with a dry brush.
- Place the maamoul, on the baking sheet and when you’ve finished all the dough, bake in the center oven for 12 to 15 minutes.
- The pastries are ready when the base is a light golden colour.
- Leave for a few hours to cool completely before handling.
- Dust the pistachio pastries with icing sugar before serving.
- Maamoul will keep for a week in an airtight container.