Submitted by Jeannie Gahdmar
You're faced with two insurmountable tasks a week before the Easter Bunny makes his annual visit: lose a few kilos for guilt-free chocolate consumption, and learn to make your traditional cultural treats and do your mother proud!
Maamoul. Deliciously light, crumbly pastry filled with an array of stuffings flavoured with a sublime hint of rosewater or orange blossom, dusted generously with icing sugar. Addictive, celebratory and impossible to enjoy in moderation. Resplendent table settings all over the Middle East would be lacking without this festive semolina pastry shell filled with nutty sweetness.
In many cities all over the world, Maamoul can now be bought ready to indulge in, however there is something special about generations sharing in the experience of making them at home. There are various ways of making this age-old festive treat: with semolina pastry, with rosewater, orange blossom, date, pistachio or walnut filled, but there's one thing that can be garranteed. No Easter, Christmas, Ramadan, Purim or Hanukkah celebration would be complete without it!
People all over the Middle East eat them during special holidays and as the name suggests, Maamoul means " filled " or "stuffed " in Arabic. Specially made wooden moulds imprint this deliciously crumbly semolina pastry with individual designs so you'll know if your maamoul is walnut, date , pistachio or fig stuffed.
One is never enough, but five are too many! The sweetness takes over your palate, filling it with the satisfying heft of dates, the crunch of nuts and the final sweetening, a generous layer of icing sugar.
Try one this Easter and one thing will be certain: with their subtle favours and heavenly aroma, these delicious Maamoul will evoke visions of places you've never been to...
Makes approx 100 x maamoul...go right ahead and half the ingredients if you don't plan on serving an entire military base.
You will need
1.5 kilos coarse semolina 3 cups fine semolina 900 grams unsalted butter at room temperature 1 cup of sugar Half a cup of Rose Water Half a cup of orange blossom water 1 cup of water 2 tablespoons of dry yeast dissolved Half a cup of luke warm water 1 teaspoon of Mahlepi 3 cups of soft icing sugar for dusting
1 traditional Maamoul mould - you can find these at a Middle Eastern grocery store
Walnut Filling: In a food processer, whiz up: Half a kilo walnuts 1 cup sugar Quarter cup of rose water
(You can substitute the walnuts for pistachio or other nuts of your choosing)
Date filling In a food processer, whiz up: Half a kilo of dates 3 tablespoons of butter I pinch of mahlepi
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix well
Add the butter by rubbing it into the dry ingredients
Slowly add the rose and orange blossom water and continue to knead until combined
Cover and allow the dough to rest for 6 hours. (Overnight)
Dissolve the dry yeast with warm water and allow to rest for 20 minutes
Add the yeast mix to the dough, and fold in with one cup of water at room temp
Knead well – this can take up to ten minutes. Allow to rest for 1 hour
Taking one heaped tablespoon of dough at a time, create a ball shape in the palm of your hand and create a small well, enough for one heaped teaspoon of filling. (click here to visit thefoodblog.com.au - a brilliant site that details this process with awesome photos)
Once you have added your desired filling, continue to shape the ball, and seal the opening
Press the ball gently into the Maamoul shaper, and turn out onto a baking tray;
Once you have filled your lined baking tray with at least 2 cms between each cookie, bake for approx. 10 to 15 minutes in a fan forced over heated to 180 degrees C.
Bake until slightly coloured. These cookies will not spread, and you definitely don’t want them to brown or darken.
Some allow the maamoul to cool before adding the icing sugar dusting. But I've always loved dousing them in the stuff fresh out of the oven!