A very traditional Middle Eastern filled biscuit, this maamoul recipe will give you the easiest rendition of maamoul with a semolina dough and spiced date filling. So delicious, and made so much easier by making it into a bar form instead of individual molds.
What is maamoul?
Maamol is a filled Middle Eastern cookie, with the pastry usually made with semolina or flour, or a mix of both. The filling ranges from date, to pistachios or walnuts. I love them all, but I’d say the absolute classic is dates!
Maamoul is very commonly served during Eid Al Fitr (a Muslim celebration that follows Ramadan, the month of fasting and Eid Al Adha (the celebration that follows Hajj, a Muslim pilgrimage.
Maamoul is also served during Easter in the Middle East.
For all those reasons, it’s such a celebratory thing to have, and it always puts a smile on my face to have maamoul with a cup of tea. Brings back so many nostalgic memories!
Why is this maamoul recipe so good?
First and foremost, because it’s so much easier than individually moulded maamoul cookies!
It has barely any sugar- the whole pan uses just 2 tbsp of granulated sugar in the dough, because the dates are sweet enough to naturally sweeten the maamoul.
It’s full of exotic yet comforting flavours, like the rose water and orange blossom water, and just a pinch of spices.
The maamoul is truly addictive, and pairs perfectly with coffee or tea, and brings so much joy to a household!
How is maamoul made?
The dough is prepared, and needs to rest to give the semolina time to soak in the ghee. After resting, it is filled with the filling of your choice.
Usually, maamoul is prepared in individual molds, (click to see what they look like) these pretty wooden molds that you can get in different patterns. It makes for stunning maamoul, but can get very time consuming to fill the mold each time first with dough, then with filling, then whacking the cookie out of the mold.
The best thing about this easy maamoul recipe is that it’s made in bar form, so that cuts down on so much time of the individual shaping of maamoul. This is sometimes referred to as maamoul mad (mad means stretched out in Arabic).
I’m so happy I found this recipe on Tania’s page, because I don’t think I’d ever have been brave enough to attempt individual maamoul!
What ingredients are in maamoul?
Some recipes call for a blend of semolina and all purpose flour. Here, we mix coarse and fine semolina.
This blend gets mixed with just a hint of sugar, a little instant yeast, some ghee, and rose water and orange blossom water for fragrance and flavour.
What is ghee?
Ghee is almost like concentrated butter, where the water and the milk solids have been removed. This forms a clarified butter with less dairy proteins. It’s commonly used in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking.
How do I make my own ghee or clarified butter?
The basic concept is by melting regular unsalted butter slowly and skim off the solids on the surface. Cook the butter until all the milk solids have sunk to the bottom and the liquid is clear — this is clarified butter.
Cook for a few more minutes until the milk solids at the bottom of the pan turn brown, then strain the liquid to get rid of the brown butter bits.
For the filling:
I made a date filling, but this would be delicious with sweetened walnuts or pistachios too.
For the date filling, you need date paste. You can purchase this ready. If you can’t find, make your own by chopping the medjool dates. Next, process in a food processor until a paste forms.
The dates naturally sweeten the filling, so no sugar is added at all! We just add a few spices to enhance the flavor. Cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, and mahleb.
Mahleb is a Middle Eastern spice, made from cherry stones that is commonly used in Middle Eastern breads, cakes and biscuits. If you can’t find it, it’s totally fine to omit it. You can add a little extra pinch of cinnamon instead.
Steps in making the maamoul:
First, start with the dough, because it needs a lengthy rest period. The rest is to ensure the semolina absorbs the ghee, so it softens and isn’t too gritty. You need at least two hours of rest, and you can do this overnight and leave the semolina mixture on the counter covered in plastic wrap while it rests.
The dough is as simple as working together the semolina, the sugar and yeast, and mahleb if using. Work the ghee in once the dry ingredients have mixed. Rub it in with your fingertips, and progress to rubbing the mixture between your two palms, almost like you are trying to generate heat in between your palms. Toss and working the ghee in until the semolina mix is evenly coated. Then comes the rest.
After the rest period, add the rose water and orange blossom water, then give the dough another one hour rest. This is the point at which I’d prepare my filling and set aside.
To make the filling, you just need to mix together the date filling, spices, rose water and orange blossom water and a little extra ghee until well combined. I think using a gloved hand is easiest for this!
Assembling the maamoul:
Assemble: the semolina dough needs to be divided into two. I use a 9×13 pyrex pan to bake the maamoul bars in. Roll out the dough halves and the filling to the size of the pan.
The first layer is semolina dough, topped with the date filling, topped with the second layer of dough. This makes a sandwich cookie.
If the dough is a little too dry and crumbly to roll out, just add cold water a tbsp at a time until it comes together.
Before baking, cut the maamoul into diagonals, cutting all the way to the bottom of the pan and the bottom layer of dough, to make lifting them out of the pan easier.
Bake until golden brown, then cool completely- or else they’ll crumble! Dust with icing sugar before serving and enjoy!
Steps to remember for maamoul success:
Let the semolina dough absorb the ghee completely before using. Minimum two hours!
If the semolina dough is crumbly after its rest period, just add a little water (1-2 tbsp) and mix until dough holds together.
Don’t overthink it if you can’t find mahleb, just proceed without. It’s just a nice little touch that isn’t essential in the slightest.
This maamoul recipe is just a guideline. Be creative with your fillings! Try different nut mixtures.
Cut the bars all the way through to the bottom before baking, it’ll be hard to cut once they are cooked and crumbly.
For the dough:
- 2 cups coarse semolina flour 340g
- 1 cup fine semolina flour 160g
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar 30g
- 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
- 1/2 tsp ground mahleb see recipe notes*
- 1 cup ghee or clarified butter 210g , see recipe notes**
- 2 tbsp rose water
- 2 tbsp orange blossom water
For the filling:
- 600 g date paste (2 packed cups), 21 oz , see recipe notes***
- 1 tsp rose water
- 1 tsp orange blossom water
- 1/2 tsp ground mahleb
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
- pinch nutmeg
For the dough:
- In a large bowl mix the coarse semolina and fine semolina, sugar, yeast, and ground mahleb.
- Add the clarified butter and rub the mixture together with the palm of your hands until mixture is fully combined.
- Cover in plastic wrap and let it sit on the kitchen counter overnight or at least 2 hours to allow the semolina to absorb the ghee.
- After resting the dough, add the rose and orange blossom water, mix and cover with plastic wrap for another hour. Meanwhile, make the filling.
For the date filling:
- Mix together all filling ingredients with your hands, kneading until fully combined, set aside.
- Once dough and filling are ready, heat the oven to 350 F (180C). Grease a 9×13 pan with a little ghee.
- If semolina dough is too crumbly add 1-2 tbsp of water and mix to combine. Divide the dough in half, and roll out each half to the size of the 9×13 pan. Transfer one layer of dough to the prepared pan and press into place.
- Roll out the date filling into the same size, and place it on top of the dough in the pan
- Roll out the second half of the dough, and place on top of the dates.
- Using a sharp knife, cut diagonal slices 1.5inches apart, cutting all the way to the bottom of the pan. Cut the opposite side to make diamonds .
- Bake 30 min or until top is light golden and edges are golden brown. Cool completely before removing from pan. Dust with confectioners sugar (icing sugar) before serving!
Date maamoul by everylittlecrumb on Jumprope.
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