Cookies of my Childhood
When I think of home and my childhood, the scent of rose and orange blossom water linger in my mind. Those are the most distinct flavors and smells of most Middle Eastern desserts.
I can remember watching my mom in the kitchen before all holidays and special events making special treats, one in particular, ma'amoul. Ma'amoul cookies are little pockets of goodness filled with walnuts or dates, of course scented with the aromas of orange blossom and rose waters. Delicate pastry is wrapped and baked into a perfect cookie to enjoy with morning coffee or on a cookie platter.
Labor of Love
Ma'amoul are definitely a labor of love, each individual cookie shaped and pressed with care, baked to perfection. The wooden molds are truly what make this dessert elegant and special with unique patterns and designs. You'll find that this cookie doesn't contain any traditional flour, but instead a mixture of semolina and farina flours. This delicate balance of flours give the cookies a tender but yet crisp bite and something truly unique.
Because these cookies are so time consuming they are often reserved for the most special holidays, Easter in particular. Many people give up sweets for Lent and celebrate Easter day with a bounty of sweets including ma'amoul cookies.
This past week, my own children watched me prepare the ma'amoul dough, prepare the filling and make each special cookie. It was a moment where I realized that the reason I do this, the reason I cook and bake is for them. Ma'amoul was part of my childhood, something that stuck in my mind as a fond memory, food does that to us. I want my own children to have those same memories, the smells and tastes of their childhood to look back on.
Whatever the reason you decide to bake today, I hope it's a good one. Whether it's a rainy day, a time to bond with kids or just to make a special treat for yourself.
As always, I love seeing your creations. Please leave a review or share your dish with me on social media which lets me know what is working for you! You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. For more delicious recipes to your inbox, sign up for my newsletter!
Other recipes to try:Print
Delicate cookies filled with walnuts or dates.
- 1 pound semolina flour
- 1 pound farina flour
- 1 pound unsalted butter
- 1 tsp mahlab spice (can omit or sub cardamom)
- ½ fresh grated nutmeg (can sub 1 teaspoon powdered)
- ¼ cup rose water
- ¼ cup orange blossom water
- ½ cup warm water
- 3 Tbsp powdered sugar
- 13 ounces baking dates
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1 pound walnuts
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp rose water
- 1 tsp orange blossom water
- Powered sugar after baking
- In a large bowl, combine the semolina, farina, mahlab and nutmeg together.
- In a small pot, melt your butter and add to flour mixture when butter is cooled. Cover. Reserve ½ cup of this mixture to use with your walnut mixture.
- Let this mixture sit for 2-3 hours. After that time, add in your rose water, cover and sit overnight.
- The next morning add your orange blossom water, warm water and powdered sugar. Mix until a dough forms that sticks together when pressed between fingers. If dough is too dry, add a touch of water.
- In a small bowl, add your baking dates and softened butter.
- Mix to combine. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a food processor, add your walnuts, sugar, orange and rose waters and combine until nuts are fine and mixture forms together.
- Remove from food processor bowl to a standard bowl.
- Add in your ½ cup of reserved pastry mixture from the night before mixture and mix together. Set aside.
Assembling and Baking
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Begin by taking about a teaspoon sized piece of dough and begin to flatten. Fill the center with either your date or walnut mixture and seal all around to create a ball.
- In your wooden mold, place the filled dough ball and press firmly to allow the impression to mark the dough.
- Bang the wooden mold to release the formed cookie. Place on baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes on upper ⅓ rack of oven.
- Cookies will be done when bottoms are slightly red.
- After coming out of the oven, dust the WALNUT cookies with powdered sugar (date cookies leave plain)
- Let cool and enjoy!
** Using a scale to measure ingredients is most accurate for this recipe. ** If the dough gets to too soft to work with, you can refrigerate for a bit to firm up. **If you can't find Mahlab spice, you can substitute additional nutmeg or cardamom, or omit completely. **Wooden molds can be found here or at any Middle Eastern grocery store.
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