Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ma'amoul - Date and Walnut Filled Cookies


Somewhere out there, someone's Tita (grandmother) is tut tutting and shaking their head in dismay at my sorry looking ma'amoul.

Traditionally these cookies are made with an intricate pattern that makes them look quite regal.

You'll be tempted to serve them on nothing but your best china I'm sure.

Clearly mine are barely tupperware worthy.

Fortunately, what they lack in looks, they make up for in taste.

Ma’amoul is  known in Trinidad as a traditional cookie of the Syrian and Lebanese community. This group of people was the last set of immigrants to arrive in Trinidad during the colonial era. They came primarily to escape religious persecution and economic hardship. Most hoped to go on to the United States. However they arrived at a time when Trinidad’s economy was thriving because of a strong sugar and cocoa industry, so many of them stayed on.

The majority of Syrian and Lebanese immigrants to Trinidad were Christian and according to the Trinidad and Tobago Syrian Lebanese Women’s Association  cookbook, Ah'len - these cookies are usually made around Christmas time. Arabic speaking Christians in other parts of the world and Eastern Orthodox Christians also make them at Easter. In the Jewish community, they are eaten on Purim, Rosh Hashanah and Hannukah. Trinidadian Muslims prepare them for iftar (The evening meal that breaks the fast during the month of Ramadan) and Eid.

Wow, these cookies sure do get around!

Next week we celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr in Trinidad and Tobago.  For Muslims, it is a time of spiritual renewal, for non Muslims... well I’ve got to be honest it’s all about the food as we show up at the homes of our Muslim brothers and sisters belly in hand. Perhaps this year you could surprise your friends by turning up with something other than your hungry belly:-) Bake these cookies and offer to bring dessert. Should you decide to make your own Ma'amoul you can find recipes in the following Trinidadian cookbooks:

The Naparima GirlsHigh School Cook Book


The Young Women's Muslim Association cookbook.

My research on these cookies turned up a variety of different ways for the dough to be made. Mamool is traditionally made with Semolina which I couldn’t find so I substituted with Cream of Wheat as they do in the Ah'len cookbook.  If you can find it, use the Semolina which will give the cookies a lovely colour and texture. Semolina is the flour that comes from Durum wheat which is a hard variety of wheat with a high gluten content. Gluten is the protein in the flour that gives  dough it’s elastic quality so that it can be stretched and pulled. I suspect cookies made with semolina would be less likely to crack as mine did.

As much as I was tempted to try the recipe in Ah’len, a yield of 70 cookies put me off - way too many cookies for my small household, or so I thought.

It turns out that I was wrong.

After tasting these cookies, I  decided that 70 cookies might not be enough!

Apart from simply making them look pretty, the pattern on the ma'amoul is also useful for remembering which cookies have dates and which are stuffed with nuts. However don't let the lack of a fancy cookie mold stop you from making these cookies. I just pressed a fork into the tops - so just go ahead and do that or even better use a cake decorating tube like this smart blogger here.

So tell me do you have a favourite dessert that you plan to make this Eid?

Yeild: Approx 24 cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cream of wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup milk
1 cup of butter at room temperature
1 tsp rose water 

Nut Filling: 
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped 
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp orange blossom water or rose water 

Date Filling: 1/4 cup chopped, pitted, dates
1 tsp orange blossom water or rose water

powdered sugar  for dusting cookies.

Directions: Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, mix flour, cream of wheat and baking powder. To the dry ingredients add, add butter. You can do this in a food processor and pulse until the mix looks like small peas. If you do not  have a food processor then  cut the butter into small cubes and rub into the flour like you would do when making pastry. Next add the milk and orange blossom water combine until dough is formed. 

In a food processor, chop walnuts until crumbly. Pour walnuts into a bowl and add sugar, cinnamon and orange blossom water. Put the dates into the food processor and blend until it forms a ball, remove and add the orange blossom water, set aside. 

To form ma'amoul cookies, roll dough into balls. Make an indentation with your finger in the ball and place some of the filling inside. Close the opening until all of the filling is concealed. Press a fork across the top or make any pattern that you would like. Place the cookies on a nonstick baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until the bottom of the cookie is light brown. Remove before the tops of the cookies become brown. They will look uncooked but if the tops get brown, they will be too dry. Let cool completely. Dust cookies completely with powdered sugar and store in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks.

   Eid Mubarak 


  1. Love it , Love it , Love it!
    And I want to say that 10 more times!
    Perfect styling and photography....and where on earth did you find that fabulous bottle!
    Love it!

  2. years ago we made them with just a rich pastry casing - no semolina. And then we ICED them - green and white. Very pretty but those rich things didn't really need icing ;-) the colours made them popular with the children though. Yours look great - who needs a mold!
    we get semolina easily in Guyana so I am always carrying over bags to Trinidad - it's also used for basboosa (semolina yoghurt cake, with syrup of course)

  3. @bellibabies 10X Thank You:-)
    @Chennette oooooh yum. Yes I have seen the flour only pasty ones. I have set myself the delicious task of trying them all. You should make some and post yours I'd love to see them as you describe with the green and white icing.

  4. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving your kind comment. I am really enjoying my visit to yours, particularly love your food styling and photography, really beautiful!

  5. I always love your styling and pictures..and you made me laugh imagining the tita shaking her head

  6. I know its a couple of days early, but wishing you and your family a very blessed and happy Eid. Your mamouls look lovely, I always thought you needed a special cookie press to make them.
    *kisses* HH
    p.s. beautiful photos!

  7. It's all about the flavor and these look like they taste fabulous. That date/nut filling is so appealing.

  8. I love your milk bottle! The shortbread cookies look dainty. Love the filling.

  9. Those look so incredible. I love the filling and the extra powdered sugar on the outside. Can't go wrong with powdered sugar! Great pictures

  10. Wizzy

    These cookies look so good! And you make it seem effortless.

    We love your blog so nominated you today for My 7 Links. Can't wait to read all about your favorite seven.

  11. I think they look pretty cute and adorable. My cookies suck .. couldn't make a single batch which could be blog worthy :)

  12. I am a cookie-0-holic. these look so yummy.......bookmarked as my next bake.

    Do stop by


  13. Hi there, just found your lovely blog and its gorgeous photos and recipes. Looking forward to following your adventures in the kitchen. Happy Eid to you and your family!

  14. I would love to make some of these right now and I would if only I had some cream of wheat. :( They look so pretty, and I would love these! :)

  15. It's my first time here and I really love your blog - following on facebook now. =) Beautiful pictures on all the posts and I enjoyed browsing around. I don't even make cookies (maybe like once or twice a year?) and yours look so perfect.

  16. these are so tasty. although i've never made them myself, i always look forward to munching on them after my meal at my favorite lebanese restaurant!

  17. I have been wanting to try these cookies forever!! Even got the dates but could not get a kick..looking at your beautiful pictures, now I will!!

  18. just cannot resist to this !!Pierre

  19. Love ma'amouls and your version sounds just divine, I need to figure out how to get my reader to work for your blog so I do not keep falling behind and missing cool stuff!

  20. I do have some semolina...I've heard of these but have never tried them. Even a half batch of these could be dangerous around here!

  21. And though we always talking about eating with our eyes first, I would forego the China in a second and settle for your tupperware cookies! The look like little morsels of heaven

  22. OK now I understand the picture on facebook. Glad you finally got your molds, but I think your fork version looks just fine too (looks a lot like mine, since I don't have the molds!). And thank you for reminding me that when I ask hubby to buy one for me in Kuwait, he actually needs to buy two, one for dates and one for nuts. Very important! Oh, and as a non-Muslim married to a Muslim, I definitely agree with your assessment that Eid is a culinary occasion not to be missed! :-)

  23. I love your bon lait bottle and the photos are gorgeous.....the cookies look wonderful to. Don't worry no grandma will shake her head..with a taste!