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georgina's Maamoul cookie recipe

The Recipe Hunters in Lebanon

Makes: 40 cookies   |    prep time: 1 hr   |    bake time: 15 minutes

When visiting my father's family in Lebanon as a child, I relished eating Arabic sweets like ma'amoul, namoora, and baklava. There was a rich, exotic, flavor about the sweets in the Middle East that set them apart from the American cupcakes, donuts, and brownies I was used to. In every bite, fragrant hints of rose water and orange blossom water lingered on your palate and the soft powdered sugar melted in your mouth. Visiting Georgina to document this recipe was a very special experience; now I don't have to visit Lebanon to taste ma'amoul. 

Ma'amoul ingredients
  • 4 cups of crushed walnuts

  • 2 cups of powdered sugar

  • 1/4 cup and 1 Tbsp of rose water 

  • 1/4 cup and 1 Tbsp of orange blossom water 

  • 6 cups fine semolina flour

  • 1 Tbsp mahleb (optional)

  • 1 Tbsp nutmeg

  • 3.5 sticks of butter

  • 3 Tbsp of whole milk

Special Equipment Considerations:

  • Ma'amoul Cookie Mold.  Ma'amoul cookie molds can be found at any Middle Eastern grocery store and they shouldn't cost more than $5-10 each. *This is optional - you don't need the molds to make the cookies.

Ma'amoul Recipe

  • Place a baking rack in the middle of your oven and preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). 

  • Combine 4 cups of crushed walnuts with 2 cups of powdered sugar. Add 3 Tbsp of orange blossom water and 3 Tbsp of rose water. Stir until the powdered sugar dissolves into the walnuts. Set aside.

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine 6 cups of fine semolina flour with 2 cups of granulated sugar,1 Tbsp nutmeg, 1 Tbsp of mahleb (ground bitter cherry stone), and 3.5 sticks of butter. Massage the butter into the semolina flour until the butter disappears (approx. 5 minutes). Pat the dough down. Add 1/4 cup of rose water, 1/4 cup of orange blossom water, and 3 Tbsp of milk. Knead the dough until it is homogenous.

  • Check the consistency of the dough against the dough in the film. You should be able to roll a small ball with the dough and it should be able to easily stick together without crumbling apart. If the dough is too dry, add more rose water/orange blossom water/milk. If the dough is wet and sticky, work a handful of semolina flour into the dough.

  • Set a small bowl of semolina flour on your working space. To form the ma'amoul, using your hands, make a ball from the dough approximately the size of a golf ball. Form a hole inside the ball with your index finger. Expand the hole, rotating the dough around your index finger until you have a hollowed out ball (see the film). Stuff the hole with a tsp of walnut filling. Pinch it closed. Roll it back into a ball. Dip it into a small bowl of semolina flour. Hit the ma'amoul maker against the side of the counter and voilà! The cookie mold is purely for design so don't stress if you do not have one. 

  • Bake the cookies at 375°F (190°C) on the middle rack of the oven for 15 minutes or until they are golden brown. Once they're ready, we'll let them cool for about 10 minutes, and cover them with a generous blanket of powdered sugar.

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