Maamoul is a delicious traditional Middle Eastern cookie that is typically made on religious holidays such as Easter or Eid. What makes maamoul distinct are the subtle flavorings used in the dough and in the filling, including “Mahlab” aka Mahlepi an aromatic spice, rose water, orange blossom water, mistika, and in some cases acacia incense.
Maamoul’s paste is prepared from semolina (aka “smeed” in Arabic) which is the coarse, purified wheat middling of durum wheat. Coarse semolina is typically a bit yellowish in color and is known as “smeed khishin” in Arabic, or coarse “smeed”. Fine semolina is another ingredient in Maamoul and can be known as “farina”, or in Arabic “smeed naaim” or fine “smeed.” Such ingredients are typically found in local Arabic grocery stores, or can also be found on Amazon.
Maamoul fillings can include dates, walnuts, pistachio, or a combination of both or other nuts. Traditionally, maamoul with dates (also called maamoul bi siwa) is made with a round shaped mold, and maamoul with nuts with an elongated shape mold. Only nuts-filled maamoul gets sprinkled with powdered sugar. Dates-filled maamoul is baked slightly longer to get light brown cookies, whereas nuts-filled maamoul is removed from the oven at the slightest hint of browning.
Making Maamoul Using a Traditional Wooden Mold
Traditionally home-made Maamoul is molded using a wooden mold. In the US such molds can be purchased at Arabic grocery stores, or can also be found online for around $4-5. A piece of dough that is a bit smaller than a golf ball is placed in the palm of the hand, flattened, fillings is placed in its center and the dough is then closed by folding the edges over the fillings. It’s then placed inside the mold, flattened and the mold is slammed against a cutting board a couple of times until the dough falls nicely shaped to the mold.
Making Maamoul Using a Muffin Mold or Cookie Cutter
Since many people don’t have the traditional wooden mold, we tried making maamoul using regular cookie cutters or muffin molds and it worked nicely. Using a muffin mold, flatten a piece of dough inside it all along the edges to a thickness of about 1/3 inches or less, then about 1 teaspoon of fillings is added in the center and is then covered by another piece of dough that is made flat with the edges of the mold. The mold is than slammed against a cutting board a couple of times until the dough falls. You can also prime the mold with some butter to make the cookie fall easier.
Learn how to make delicious Lebanese Maamoul cookies like a pro.
Maamoul Dough Ingredients
1 lb coarse semolina (smeed khishin)
5 oz fine semolina (smeed naim), or Farina
0.5 cup of regular sugar
0.6 lb of sweet butter, melted
4 oz of rose water
1 oz of orange blossom water
⅙ teaspoon of yeast
¼ cup of warm water
Ground “mahlab” to taste (optional, but recommended)
¼ teaspoon of ground Greek Mistika (optional)
A bit of acacia incense (bakhoor) (optional)
Nut Fillings Ingredients
¾ to 1 cup of regular sugar
2 cups of powdered sugar
0.5 lb of unsalted pistachio nuts
0.5 lb of unsalted walnuts
1 oz of rose water
1 oz of orange blossom water
Maamoul Dough Preparation Method
Maamoul Fillings Preparation Method
Molding and Baking the Maamoul
Optional for the adventurous: If you have Acacia incense (Gum Arabic, aka “Bakhoor”) handy, you can burn a bit of it in the pot that you’re going use to warm the rose water for the maamoul dough. This gives a subtle but complex traditional flavoring to the dough.