Maamoul cookies are the famous middle eastern shortbread pastries filled with dates or nuts. They are traditional at religious holidays in the Levantine region. And are made by hand or using special wooden molds to create different shapes – round like a ball, crescent form, shaped as a dome or flattened as a disc.
- 3 cups farina (milled wheat flour/ can be found at middle eastern stores)
- ½ cup All Purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup ghee, clarified butter (regular butter works too)
- ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
- ½ cup lukewarm water
- ⅓ cup whole milk
- 3 cups dates, pitted
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon orange blossom water
- 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil (other vegetable oils work)
- Blend dates together in a food processor with spices and 1 tablespoon oil until smooth. Add orange blossom water. Roll 1 tablespoon dates into 24 small balls.
- In a small bowl, mix yeast in water and allow to stand for 3 minutes.
- In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, mix together farina, AP flour, salt, sugar and butter.
- Add the yeast and water and milk to the bowl and mix until dough forms.
- Allow dough to rest for 10 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Using mold, press dough into the center, place date ball in the center of the dough. Place a second smaller piece of dough over the top of the date, cover the filling.
- Tap the mold until the dough releases.
- Place on parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Makrout is a traditional North African semolina pastry. Also spelled Maqrout, Makroudh, Maqrut, Mqaret, Imqaret or Makroud. The word makrout in Arabic means “diamond shaped”, as are these small delights.
Makes: 3 to 4 dozen
- 750g semolina (medium grain)
- 120ml oil
- 110g butter, melted
- 1 pinch salt
- 4 tablespoons plain flour
- 2 teaspoons vanilla sugar
- 100ml warm water, or as needed
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
- oil, for frying
- sesame seeds, to garnish (optional)
- 500g ground almonds
- 250g granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
- 2 pinches ground cinnamon
- 1 dash almond extract
- 500g honey
- 3 tablespoons orange blossom water
Prep:1hr › Cook:45min › Extra time:8hr › Ready in:9hr45min
- Mix the semolina, oil, butter and salt in a large bowl. Rub the grains of semolina between your fingers, so that all the grains are well coated. Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside. Let it rest like this for at least 2 hours, but ideally overnight. The mixture should be like wet, oily sand in the morning.
- The next morning, combine the warm water and orange blossom water. Slowly add to the semolina mixture along with the flour and vanilla sugar. Add just enough liquid till you have obtained a soft and homogeneous dough. Don’t overwork the dough, just enough to have a smooth and flexible dough that forms into a ball easily. Set aside.
- Make the filling by combining the almonds, sugar, vanilla sugar, cinnamon and almond extract. Form into 2 long logs. Set aside.
- Divide the semolina dough into 2 balls, then flatten to form a rectangle, about 3 times the width of your filling logs. Press down in the centre to form an indentation, then lay the filling log. Fold the semolina dough over the filling, pressing the edges together to seal. Roll the log out gently, shaping it around the filling and smoothing into a uniform shape. (Cut the logs in half if it is more manageable.)
- Cut each log into diagonal pieces, creating diamond-like shapes. Reshape the cut ends to have a nice uniform look. Repeat the steps until you have used all the dough.
- Set the makrout aside to rest, as you heat up a deep, heavy saucepan with oil – about three fingers deep. And in another pan, heat up the syrup ingredients to just below simmering, and keep warm.
- Once the oil is hot enough, fry the makroud in small batches till golden on all sides. Remove and drain on kitchen paper and continue frying till all makroud are cooked.
- After frying, dip the makrout in the hot honey syrup, keeping them in the syrup for about a minute. Remove and drain on wire racks. Repeat the process, adding each makroud to the syrup for a second soak. Remove and drain on wire racks, and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using.