Monday, April 14, 2014

Maamoul - Lebanese Easter Cookies

Easter is right around the corner and of course since this year my mom is not here to bake these sweet delicious cookies called Maamoul i had to start craving them... so the next best thing was to try to make them myself for the first time.

As luck would have it i made a new friend that is visiting here in Texas and was willing to participate in this joint venture. Shopping for the ingredients was completed and the excitement was heightened. We followed a couple of different recipes, one from a youtube video online and we got instructions from my mom who skyped with us on saturday to supervise the progress of our work :)

The dough of the Maamoul is made of semolina shortbread mixed with some all purpose flour, butter and orange blossom water. The filling usually is either buttery dates (my favorites), or a mix of walnuts or pistachios with sugar and orange blossom water. Biting through these cookies is just heaven; they're bite size and crumbly and delicious.

We made a very simple recipe but if you have any questions after reading the instructions please don't hesitate to ask.

3 cups semolina
1/2 cup flour
2 sticks of butter at room temperature
a pinch of salt

Mix dry ingredients first,  add butter and leave it covered minimum 6 hours, we left it overnight

The next day, measure 3/4 cup lukewarm water, add 1/2 tsp instant yeast, 1/2 tsp sugar mix and set aside for 5 minutes. Get your dough, add 2 tbsp powder milk, 2 tsp ground mahlab and mix it. Start mixing and add the water with the yeast slowly and mix as you go. we ended up only using about 3/4 of the water/yeast mix. Don't over knead the dough, just enough to get a sticky dough. Cover it and let it rest for 15 minutes.

For the filling we made dates, pistachios and walnuts

Dates - mix the date paste with some butter (didn't measure), knead the dough until smooth and make them into balls like the picture below. I wish you could smell these little babies :)

Walnuts/Pistachios - i used the food processor and ground the walnuts a bit coarse, added some sugar and some orange blossom water. The only difference with the pistachios is that i did them really fine. You can make little balls with the pistachios but the walnuts ones won't really stick together if they're too coarse.

After the dough has rested you can start filling it with the dates, pistachios or walnuts. See the last photo. We baked ours at 375 for about 10 to 15 minutes. They need to be golden color on the top.

You'll need these wooden molds to shape the cookies but if you can't get your hands on anything similar we found a recipe online where the chef used the silicone ice cube trays to shape the cookies, they don't turn out cute and pretty but they taste just the same.

This was my first attempt at making maamoul, usually i never had to, my mom and my aunts always baked them for the family. Traditionally my mom would stay up all night and make tons of these over Easter weekend starting friday night, you're not supposed to eat any of them till Easter morning but since there's no one to watch we immediately tried some as soon as they were cool enough out of the oven. I love the smells and tastes of maamoul, it reminds me of home and it made me miss my mom and if my mom was here with me this year i think she would have been proud of the maamouls we made.

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