Hi Bold Bakers!
Maamoul cookies, also called Ma’amoul cookies, are a traditional Arabic dessert that is so delicate it melts in your mouth and is packed with delicious, sweet flavor!
Traditional maamoul is made with yeasted semolina flour, but my homemade maamoul recipe calls for all-purpose flour, making this a quicker (but still absolutely incredible) version! The rosewater-scented shortbread-like pastry surrounds a simple but luscious date filling. It is rich, satisfying, and so comforting. Plus, who doesn’t love to bake with dates? They’re so flavorful, almost vanilla-like, and naturally sweet, so this recipe doesn’t call for much sugar.
These Middle Eastern cookies also have a rich history (you can see depictions of them in Egyptian temples!) and are a part of many Muslim and Christian holidays!
If you like this recipe, it’s a part of my Bold Baking Worldwide campaign, where I’m bringing you recipes from around the globe on Mondays! Catch up with these recent recipes, too: Bananas Foster, Irish Apple Amber, Sourdough English Muffins.
What is Maamoul?
Maamoul is a butter cookie traditionally filled with dates, although other fillings, like pistachios or walnuts, are also popular. These delicious cookies can be found around the world but are particularly popular in the Arabian peninsula.
Traditionally, maamoul is made with special molds that are carved into wood, but for my maamoul, I simply a fork or a toothpick to make a decorative pattern.
Maamoul is often made around Easter as a treat to end Lent, and, for Muslims, they are made a few days before Eid, the celebration that ends the fasting month of Ramadan. Jewish people also enjoy maamoul during their holiday Purim.
It’s not certain why maamoul became associated with these holidays, but some people think that the cookies help remind people that while fasting is challenging, there is a sweet reward. And that may be a metaphor for the cookie itself: even though the outside of the cookie is a bit bland, the date filling is sweet!
What You Need To Make Maamoul
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Small saucepan
- 2 baking sheets
- Parchment paper
- Mixing bowl or food processor
How To Make Maamoul
This homemade maamoul recipe is my quick and easy take on the beloved date-filled cookie! Here is how you make maamoul the easy way (and don’t forget to get the full recipe, with measurements, down on the page below):
- To make the filling, combine the dates, water, and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. While the dates cook, mash and stir them until they have broken down into a paste. This should take around 3 minutes. Let the filling cool.
- Preheat your oven to 325°F (165°C) and line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
- To make the dough, combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder in a mixing bowl or a food processor. Then, pulse or cut the butter in.
- Combine the milk and rosewater and stir it into the dough until it comes together.
- Gather the dough together and divide it into 20 equally-sized balls.
- Take one ball of dough and flatten it in the palm of your hand and pinch it into a bowl shape.
- Take a teaspoon of the filling and place it in the center of the dough. Bring up the sides and pinch them together to seal the filling in.
- Roll and flatten the maamoul slightly, then place the cookie, seam side down, on your prepped cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough balls and filling.
- Prick the top of the cookies with a fork or toothpick to make a decorative pattern, then bake until the cookies just start to turn golden, around 25-30 minutes.
- After baking, while the cookies are still warm, dust generously with powdered sugar.
Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips For Making Maamoul
- Use Medjool dates to get the best texture for the filling, unless you have access to fresh-picked dates from a farmer’s market. Other varieties of dates can be quite firm and won’t break down as easily.
- If you don’t have (or don’t like) rosewater, you can replace it with orange blossom water, more milk, or just plain water.
- You can add 1/4 cup (1¼ oz/35g) of finely chopped crystallized ginger to the date filling if you’d like a bit more texture.
- Maamoul can also be filled with nuts: try combining ¾ cup (3¾ oz/106g) coarsely ground walnuts or pistachios with 1/3 cup (4oz/115g) strained apricot jam and using this as a filling.
- Traditionally, maamoul is made with beautiful wooden molds. If you would like to try this, they can be found online!
How Do I Store Maamoul?
Leftover maamoul cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
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Full (and printable) recipe below!