Ma'amoul Date filled cookies
These melt in your mouth cookies can be made with dates, cinnamon, nuts, or even chocolate spread.
The origin is Egyptian though I have no doubt I will get messages from the Israeli community disputing this vigorously. I just read another blogger’s claim that this cookie is of Iraqi origin and boy did she get bombarded with comments arguing it.
They are also popular among Syrian and Lebanese communities. But I am just going to call it simply Israeli Ma’amul.
My grandmother made these when I was a child and I devoured them. I didn’t even know there were dates inside. It was just a decadent sweet flavor that I didn’t question. She would make her own date paste out of dates, but today you can get ready made date paste which cuts your preparation time by a lot. (See link on bottom of page.)
There are so many different varieties of Ma’amul. So many different shapes. Some are a rounded ball with a flat bottom and date spread inside. Some have designs made on top with a special small ma'amul tool that resembles a wide bottom tweezer. Some are rolled into a long tube shape then sliced into small chunks.
The egg yolk used in this recipe is a little tip to give the pastry it's richness and the powdered sugar gives it a unique sweetness that I prefer over the use of regular sugar in this recipe. These cookies are scrumptious, crumbly and melt in your mouth delicious. No mixer needed!
The cookies pictured above were mostly made by my 11-year-old granddaughter who is mastering pastry baking at a much earlier age than I did!
Once you taste these you won’t stop eating them! So let’s get started with making these sweet little cookies full of flavors that remind me and many others of times gone by!
3 ½ cups of flour, sieved
2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and a little extra for dusting baked cookies
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
200 grams softened butter - or a little less than 2 sticks. It is always more accurate to measure in grams if you have a scale.
½ cup of orange juice
¼ cup of canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg yolk
I tub of date spread, I have added a link for this. If you have an Israeli store near you they will have this. If you prefer you can also use chocolate spread instead or any spread you like.
1 teaspoon cinnamon (if using the date spread)
Ground walnuts (optional)
*You can also make your own date spread if you prefer.
To prepare cookies:
In a large bowl add sieved flour, baking powder, powdered sugar and salt and give it a light mix with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Add the softened butter, orange juice, oil, vanila essence and yolk and mix until the mixture becomes a dough. I use my hands to mix everything together. I like to feel the dough take shape but you can use a wooden spoon if you prefer. It should have a soft non sticky feel to it and be easy to handle. Shape into a ball with your hands.
Turn on your oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle a little flour on your workspace and shape your ball into a longer thick piece. Divide into 3 or 4 pieces.
To make the Ma'amul into a rolada, take one piece at a time and rollout out to a fairly thin rectangle.
Using a knife cut off edges to straighten dough.
Spread a thin layer of Date spread on your rectangle, sprinkle with a little cinnamon and some ground walnuts if you like or with your favorite chocolate spread.
Roll into a tube and with a knife make slits all the way into the dough but do not pull them apart. Keeping them together will stop them from drying out during the baking process.
If you prefer the rounded shaped Ma'amul, take a chunk of dough and shape it into a ball in the palm of your hand. Then with your fingers shape your dough ball into a little flat thin pita shape.
Fill each ball with about half a teaspoon of the date spread and sprinkle with cinnamon. Close the dough by pinching it together.
You can decorate the top of the ball with a fork by making marks of any kind.
Place your tubes and balls of dough on a parchment paper lined baking pan and bake in oven for about 20-25 minutes.
When cookies are just a little less than golden but not brown and the flat bottoms are a little brown, they're done. Leave to cool completely, pull cut pieces apart and dust with powdered sugar.
Taste one to see if they're ready. The only problem is you won't stop at just one! Enjoy!
*Homemade date spread :
A small packet of dates, make sure there are no pits or hard ends and add them to a bowl with ½ cup of hot/boiling water.
Let it sit for a couple of minutes. (Double quantities for more dates)
With your hands mix them together until the dates and water are blended.
Put in food processor and process until it becomes a paste. Add more water if needed to create a smooth consistency. Keep refrigerated in a jar.
Or, simply buy the Date spread below to save time. Either way works!
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