Maamoul is a traditional decorative cookie made to celebrate major religious holidays by Lebanese and Middle Easterners throughout the world, including Easter and Eid-al-Fitr. It is a cookie stuffed with either walnuts, dates, pistachios, or more recently, we’ve seen Nutella and chocolate variations.
Our family gets together annually to make these delicious cookies and we try something different each year. This year we tried a new variation with cooked dried figs and another with blended dried figs. The cooked dried figs were made with the traditional “teen matboukh,” made at the end of the summer. To make teen matboukh, figs are dried under the sun, cut into small pieces, and cooked with sugar, water, almond, sesame, “jowz teeb” seasoning, and lemon juice. The dried figs blend is made by blending dried figs with butter and a little sugar. It should have the same texture and prepared the same way as the dates that are typically used in maamoul.
There are so many variations of this dessert, but this is our recipe that our family loves!
Mix all of the dry dough ingredients and butter together the evening in advance.
Wet a clean, unused towel and cover the dough. Place it at room temperature.
Around noon the following day, add 1/4 cup orange blossom water and 2 cups of rosewater.
Knead the dough very well. Dampen the clean tower and cover the dough again.
After 3 hours, the dough is ready to begin creating the maamoul cookies;
Date stuffing: prepare the date mix by rolling it into balls, about the size of a cherry tomato.
Almond and Walnut stuffing: Grind the almonds and walnuts, separately. Grind until coarse, not fine. Make sure not to over grind them. Combine walnuts and almonds with the rosewater, blossom water, and sugar.
Making the cookies: Roll the dough into a ball and open one side with your thumb by pressing into it (the same way kibbe is made and as seen in the photos here), stuff with ingredient of choice and close the ball back up.
Press the stuffed dough ball into the maamoul mold (pro tip: you can use clean, new tights over the maamoul molds in order to prevent the cookies from getting stuck in the mold. Note that there are three different designs for the maamoul cookies: the round flat style is for the dates and we used it for the teen as well, the deeper round one is for walnuts and almonds, the oval one is for the pistachios.
Preheat oven to 425F. Place the prepared cookies on a tray and set the first tray on the bottom rack.
Check on the cookies after ten minutes. If they are lightly golden on the bottom, move the first tray to the top shelf and set the next tray on the bottom shelf.
If you would like to try the dried teen variation, simply do it the same way as the dates. 2 pounds of dried figs, blended with butter until you reach a smooth consistency. Roll into cherry sized balls. Please note that you will have to adjust the dough ingredients if you make both 2 pounds of dates and 2 pounds of dried figs.