Filling your house (and heart) with sweet baking smells, Maamoul bi Ajwa is associated with special occasions like Eid, but can be eaten year round too. It is a golden crumbly cookie with a sweet date filling.
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 cup clarified butter/ghee (or butter or a mix of both)
- 1/3 cup powder sugar
- 1 teaspoon yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon mahlab (mahaleb)
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 12 oz pitted baking dates
- Start by activating the yeast by dissolving it in 1/4 cup warm water with 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Leave for 10 minutes until foamy and ready to use.
- Meanwhile, prepare the dough by combining flour, mahaleb and sugar. You can substitute some of the flour with whole wheat flour or semolina (smeed) for an extra crunch. Add melted (but not hot) clarified butter and mix very well until incorporated. Finally, add the yeast water and knead until the dough comes together. This is a thicker dough (more like playdough). Cover and allow to rest for two hours.
- To make the filling, chop the dates (use a food processor if needed), then knead until they form a dough. Make into 24 little 2/3 inch balls. You can rub your palms with little vegetable oil for easy handling. Do not add sugar to dates as they are naturally very sweet. Use dark soft dates (ajwa) or just buy a package of baking dates available in most Middle Eastern groceries.
- After the dough has rested, divide it into 24 one-inch balls. Hallow each ball (see picture below) with your index finger, place one date ball and seal the ball.
- Syrians use special wooden maamoul molds to give artistic shapes to the cookies. If you have one, rub it with some vegetable oil before use so the dough won’t stick to it. Press one dough ball lightly into the mold and hit its edge on a surface so that the cookie comes out. If a mold is not available, press the cookie with your palm on a pan and decorate with a fork.
- Arrange in a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 F oven for 10-13 minutes until golden brown. Broil on low for the last 2 minutes to brown the surface a little.
- Cool completely before serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. These cookies can keep up to three weeks.
- Enjoy maamoul with tea or coffee.
Makes 24 pieces
Little balls of dough and dates
Stuffing and shaping Maamoul
Date maamoul cooling down