Maamouls are what I would call, cookies from Heaven!! They melt in the mouth and make you feel so happy. These little goodies, packed with rich nuts, scented with orange blossom water and sweetened with honey are so addicting that you would never want to stop eating them.
They are basically short bread cookies stuffed with different kinds of fillings especially with dates and nuts and are shaped using wooden molds. I love the ones with pistachios the best. In the middle eastern countries where they originated they are usually baked on religious holidays especially Ramadan and are also enjoyed on special occasions and weddings. They are so irresistibly delicious that you once you take a bite you cannot stop with just one, you’ll keep asking for more………
1. Cut the chilled butter into cubes.
2. Place the flour (start with 4 cups), salt and sugar in the food processor and pulse 2 or 3 times. The amount 4 – 6 cups is given because different flours absorb fat differently and the moisture content of the butter you are using may differ as well. If too much flour is added then the mixture becomes dry and crumbly and if less then it gets sticky.
3. Add the butter and pulse again 3 or 4 times, till the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.
4. At this stage add the orange blossom water and chilled water little by little with each pulse till it forms into a soft dough. Squeeze the dough to check. It should be soft but not sticky or crumbly. Try to add a little flour if it is sticky and if you feel it is dry then add a little more butter. But for me, with 4 cups and a little more it turns out just right.
5. Pound the nuts coarsely. You can use different fillings with mixed nuts (almonds, pistachios and walnuts) or just pistachios or just almonds in combination with honey/icing sugar and orange blossom water. You can also use just date paste mixed with orange blossom water. Or dates and mixed nuts with orange blossom water. You can be as creative as you want with your fillings. For the maamoul fillings recipe click here.
6. Make small round balls of the dough. Make slightly bigger balls of the filling. If you are using more than one filling you can use different molds just to differentiate from the shape.
7. Make a depression in the small rounds of the dough then shape them like a bowl by swirling around and pinching the edge/rim with your fingers and thumb. Place the filling in the bowl, close the dough over the filling, pinch to seal and smoothen it like a ball. Please note that there should be a considerably thin layer of dough around the filling (not so thin that the filling comes out on baking and not so thick that there’s hardly any filling inside). Keep a paper towel handy to wipe your hands each time you touch the filling to avoid discolouring the dough.
8. Roll the filled rounds in the flour, dust the mold too with a little flour then overturn it and tap to shake off the excess flour. This helps the mamoul from easily falling off the mold.
9. Place the filled maamoul in the selected shape in the maamoul mold and press it with your palm. Do not overdo it as it would rupture the dough and the filling would come out.
10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
11. Now tap the mold on the edge of the cookie sheet to get the mamoul fall off. Or you could keep a separate tray to tap the mamouls from the mold. Repeat with the rest of the maamouls.
12. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Bake the maamouls for around 10 -12 minutes till the base of the maamoul is lightly golden brown. After 12 mins take a flat thin spatula and lift the base of a maamoul to see if it is done. Remove when they look firm but still white at the top and lightly golden at the base.
13. Cool on wire wrack for one hour. Dust them with icing sugar after they cool down completely and enjoy. Below is the picture of mamouls in a gift wrap for a wedding.
Do not store these cookies in the fridge. Store them in a cool dry place in an air tight container or cookie jar. They stay fresh outside for 2 – 4 weeks. You may freeze them if you want to store for longer periods of time. But bring them to room temperature before serving them.