Sunday, March 4, 2012

Memories of Grandma Lela - Mamoul, Maamoul (Syrian Date Cookies)

Some of the things that remind me of my Grandma Lela are her sewing, crocheted slippers, embroidery and her Syrian Date Cookies (aka Mamoul or Maamoul). She would always make them, put them in a tin and bring with her on the airplane when she came to see us.
Grandma Lela (Wasn't she beautiful?)
Today I decided to make some so I thought I would share "how to" with everyone. They are nummy.

There are many versions of the receipe out there on the web. Some use semonila flour and yeast. I use a simpler version using white flour.

First you will want to gather the ingredients:

1 3/4 Cups of Flour
1 1/2 Sticks Unsalted Butter cut into small pieces
3 tsp Orange Flower Water or Rose Water - (or 1/2 & 1/2 of each.. that's what I did)
2 TBSP Milk
1/2 pound pitted dates (or I found baking dates in the Middle Eastern Store. It's already a jam/paste consistency so you can skip the step below to make the filling.)
3 TBSP Water

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

To prepare the filling if you can't find the baking dates:
1. Put pitted dates and water in a saucepan over low heat. Bring to a simmer, reduce and stir often until the consistency is thick and jam-like. Spread the filling on a plate or shallow bowl to cool.

To make the dough:
1. Put the flour in a mixing bowl
2. Cut up the unsalted butter into small pieces (mine was frozen so it broke up nicely.)
4. Add the butter to the flour and use a pastry cutter to blend w/ flour until a crumbly consistency (or use a food processor.)
5. Sprinkle Orange and/or Rose Water & milk over flour/butter and blend just until the dough forms a ball.

To prepare the cookies:
1. Break off a piece of the dough and make a ball (you will want to make yours smaller than the one pictured below.)
2. Use your thumb or index finger to make an indentation in the ball of dough.
3. Expand the indentation to make the dough a small cup shape.
4. Put a small teaspoon full of filling inside and pinch the dough closed.
5. Now with this step if you do not have a mold you would place the cookie seam side down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave about 1 inch between each and use a fork to flatten a little & make decorative edges. If you have a mold see the directions continued below.

To shape the cookie in the mold:
1. Dust the mold with flour.
2. Place the dough ball into the mold and press firmly. Try to keep it as flat on the bottom & even with the top of mold (I had too much in the one that was photographed. I got better as I went along guessing how much to use for each cookie.) When done tap firmly on counter to expel the cookie and place on the baking sheet about 1 inch apart.

To Bake & Finish:
1. Bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Do NOT let them brown. They should remain very white. Since there is no sugar added to the dough there should be very little carmelization. (The photo below is them heading INTO the oven.)
2. Remove from oven and cool on the pan placed on a wire rack. Once cooled dust with powdered sugar.

Eat & enjoy.... Grandma's comfort food at its finest. 


  1. Is that one and a half pounds or sticks of butter per batch? Marlo and I are making these in the next couple of days and I don't know how much butter to use.