Maamoul are tender, buttery cookies with a sweet fruit filling. Make this recipe for date-filled semolina cookies to celebrate the holidays!
Holiday Food Gifts
Baking bread, cakes, cookies and other sweet treats is a holiday tradition that many of us participate in. Whether it’s simple treats like pistachio brittle and mung bean cake, or more elaborate desserts like Greek baklava or basbousa, gifting homemade foods are a thoughtful gift.
Holiday cookie recipes are fun to make, and many of the cookies pack well for shipping, including these Middle Eastern ma’amoul.
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Muslims enjoy eating maamoul after sundown during Ramadan, their 30-day religious holiday of prayer and intermittent fasting.
Similarly, Christians enjoy the cookies as a treat during the days leading up to the Lenten fast, as well as on Easter Sunday.
In Jewish communities, maamoul cookies are often made for the Purim, Rosh Hashanah, and Hanukkah holidays.
Alternate names / spellings: mamoul, ma’amoul, mamool, semolina cookies
Recipe Difficulty: Medium 🥄🥄
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Semolina flour- This coarse, pale yellow flour is made from durum wheat, which is the same product used to make pasta and couscous. Semolina flour is very high in protein, so it's a good product to use for baking cakes and cookies.
- ground mahlab- This optional ingredient also goes by the names mahleb and mahlepi. It's made from the distilled seeds of St. Lucie cherries. It has cherry flavor, with notes of vanilla, roses, and almonds. It's used in a lot of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dessert recipes.
- Orange water- This aromatic water is made by distilling the flower blossoms of orange trees. If you're unable to find it, good substitutes are 1-2 drops of orange oil, or a 1:1 ratio of orange liqueur. As a last resort, use freshly squeezed orange juice.
- Dates- Be sure to get pitted Medjool dates, or if you prefer figs, those can be used instead
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ground mahlab spice (imported from Greece)
organic food grade orange blossom water (imported from Morocco)
organic food grade orange blossom water (made in the USA)
Maamoul Instructions and Recipe Tips
- Make the sugar syrup. Be sure to make the syrup first. This way, it will have enough time to cool down before you incorporate it into the other cookie ingredients.
- Make the date filling. If you have a small food processor or food chopper, they work better than chopping the dates with a knife.
- Make and chill the cookie dough. Put the semolina and all purpose flours into a large bowl and use your fingers to work the butter in. Another (less messy) option is to cream them together on medium power in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
After the butter and flours are combined, slowly pour in the cooled syrup and work the dough with your fingers or combine on medium-high speed until it is soft, pliable and easy to shape. Place the dough in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up so that it's easier to mould.
- Shape the maamoul cookies. Scoop a walnut sized piece of dough and roll it into a ball. Using your thumb, make a dent in the center of each and fill with a teaspoon of the date filling. Gently press dough up and around filling to seal, roll into a ball.
Press into a maamoul mold (or flatten slightly into disc and make decorative crosshatch marks with fork on top). Turn the mould over and gently tap it on the counter surface to dislodge the cookie and place it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Repeat with remaining dough.
- Pan and bake. Arrange the maamoul cookies an inch apart on the pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until they’re a light golden color.
- Cool before dusting with powdered sugar.
Maamoul Cookies FAQ
Not exactly. Maamoul are semolina cookies, typically filled with pistachios, walnuts or fruit, such as dates or figs. Many people associate them with Egyptian kahk cookies, but they are not the same dessert. Kahk are butter cookies made only with all purpose flour, and they usually don’t have a filling.
When made according to our recipe, each date-filled semolina cookie will have approximately 156 calories.
The Middle Eastern cookies are often made with a decorative cookie mould, but it’s purely optional.
If you don’t have a cookie press or cookie mold, simply use your fingers to flatten the dough in the palm of your hand. After adding and encasing your desired filling, you can use the tines of a fork to decorate the tops of the cookies.
Maamoul (Semolina Cookies)
- 2 cups semolina
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose ﬂour
- 1 cup butter softened (or ghee)
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground mahleb (optional)
- ¼ cup powdered sugar for dusting
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon orange water or rose water
- ¾ lb Medjool dates
- 1 tablespoon butter melted (or ghee)
- 1 tablespoon orange water or rose water
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Stir the sugar, water and orange water in a small saucepan over medium heat until you get a rolling boil. Boil 1 minute and turn off heat. Set aside to cool 5 minutes.
- Pulse the dates in a food processor (or chop by hand) until a paste starts to form. Add the butter, orange water and sesame seeds. Pulse several times until mixed. Set aside in small bowl.
- Put the semolina and flour in a large bowl and work the butter in with your fingers. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and mahleb, pour in the cooled syrup and work the dough until it is soft, pliable and easy to shape. Put the dough in freezer for 15 minutes to firm up (it's easier to mold).
- Preheat your oven to 325°F.
- Scoop a walnut shaped lump of dough and roll it into a ball. Using your thumb, make a dent in the center of each and fill with a teaspoon of the filling. Gently press dough up and around filling to seal, roll into a ball. Press into a maamoul mold (or flatten slightly into disc and make decorative crosshatch marks with fork on top). Turn mold over and gently tap on counter surface to dislodge from mold. Arrange on lined baking sheet an inch apart and repeat with remaining dough and filling.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a light golden color. Remove from oven and cool. Dust with powdered sugar. Store in airtight container or tin.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.