This post is a much over-due promise to a friend who has requested the recipe a long time ago! Ma’moul or ma’amoul (معمول ) are delicate cookies/pastries widely common with Middle Easterns. They are usually filled with dates, walnuts, coconut or pistachios and are served on occasions such as Eid, Christmas or Easter. If you search this recipe online I’m sure you’ll find many hits, each one adding the author’s unique touch. Some are hand-me down recipes from many generations, others slightly tweaked to personal taste.
The secret to a truly delicious date cookie is of course in the quality of dates you have on hand. I always have lots of freebies sent from the Middle East and dates are the most recurrent. In the UK many different types of dates have become readily available in supermarkets and health shops; madjool dates probably being the best. Madjool dates are plump, soft, succulent and extremely rich. They have a deep caramel flavour and are high in fibre, iron, potassium, magnesium and many other minerals and vitamins.
I should also mention that you need a cookie mould (i.e. ma’moul mould) to shape the stuffed cookies into the delicacies shown above and below. However, if you don’t have any ma’moul mould you could either turn them into date rolls, or create your own pattern with a fork. The choices are endless. The cookie mould that I have used pictured above is not the authentic wooden one most commonly used, but it still does the job! No matter what shape or size, you are warned, these cookies are extremely ‘more’ish’ and addictive. Date Stuffed Cookies – Makes approximately 40 cookies
Note: The ratio of white/wholemeal flour in this recipe is just enough to give the earthy notes without making it over-powering for those with a sensitive palate towards wholemeal! I would personally use all wholemeal (kamut) for a truly earthy, nutty bite, using coconut oil instead of butter too.
- 500 g/1 lb good quality soft dates, pitted and roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon oil of your choice
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Place all the filling ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. If the dates you have are slightly hard, add a splash of boiling water to soften, or heat gently in a pan for about 3-4 minutes. until you have a slightly mushy mixture and all the spices are combined. Set aside until the dough is ready.
For the dough
Note: If you don’t have semolina, you can easily replace it with flour; this way you won’t need to beat the butter with the semolina, and just proceed to adding the soft butter, amongst the other ingredients, to the flour until combined.
- 1 cup semolina
- 1 cup / 225 g very soft butter
- 1-2 teaspoons rosewater
- 1 tablespoon unrefined light muscovado sugar (or sweetner of your choice)
- a pinch of sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of ground cardamom and cinnamon, optional
- 1/3 cup milk of your choice
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached plain flour or white spelt flour
- 1/2 cup wholemeal flour, kamut, or wholegrain spelt
Place the semolina , butter, milk, rosewater, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spices (if using) in a large mixing bowl. Beat in a standing mixture (attached with a K-beater), or hand-held electric mixture, or by hand, on high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 7-10 minutes. The look and consistency of the semolina mixture will be very similar to a classic sponge cake batter. This process allows the semolina grains to absorb the moisture from the butter and milk, so you won’t end up with a ‘grainy’ bite.
Add the flours (if using wholemeal) and mix until combined. The dough should have a texture similar to short-crust pastry. You may need to add a splash of milk if the dough is too dry, that depends on the type of flour used.
Preheat oven to 180° C/160° C fan/350° F.
Line a few baking sheets with non-stick parchment paper.
Break off small walnut sized pieces of the dough, flatten and fill with about 1 teaspoon of the date filling. Close the filling and press into the cookie mould or create your own pattern using the back of a fork. Repeat until all the dough and date filling is used up.
Alternatively, break off a third of the dough, flatten into a rough rectangle and fill with third of the date filling. Roll the dough to enclose the filling and cut diagonally to create stuffed bit-sized date rolls. Repeat with the remaining two thirds.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, where they should get a touch of golden colour on the sides and the surface. If not, bake for a further 5 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Once cooled, dust lightly with some icing sugar. Enjoy!
Should you have any leftover cookies, they can be stored in an air-tight container for 3-4 days. They freeze well too.
- Add slightly roasted walnuts to the date mixture
- Roll the stuffed dough into crushed nuts such as pistachios and shape into balls