Date Ma’amouls

date ma'amoul

I am finally feeling less like a zombie and more like a very tired human. The last ten days of Ramadan were tough but very rewarding and fulfilling. Despite the 3 or if you were lucky, 4 hours of sleep, I was pumped. There is nothing like the feeling of the last stretch of Ramadan; the achievement of fasting, succeeding in the goals you set for yourself, the resolutions you complete and the deep devotion and satisfaction you feel at the end.

After three days of fun and festivities, although they too were tiring, we found ourselves relaxing and taking it easy. Hanging out with friends and enjoying the holiday season was great fun for me. We enjoyed a lovely Eid party with some great friends and then a Sunday filled with a carnival and games at the Islamic Centre. A nice way to finish off a wonderful holiday. 

date ma'amoul

Saturday night we had a dinner invitation to a wonderful friend’s house and since I didn’t have to cook that day, I spent the day relaxing and baking. It felt so good to be back in the kitchen getting knee high in flour and butter.

Ideally, I would’ve liked to have baked my cookies and scones before Eid as they were supposed to be gifts, but the last few days were so hectic that I decided to just do it the day after. It worked out well and I was happily baking away on Saturday.

I am sure you have seen many variations of the ma’amouls posted the last few weeks on various Middle Eastern blogs.They are a Ramadan and Eid favourite. I myself have never made them until a few days ago. I love them but my father would always send me boxes of ready made ones and so I never needed to make them.

Date ma’amouls have been on my baking to do list for years and finally this year, I was able to tick that off. They are wonderful and really quite easy. My friend lent me her ma’amoul moulds and I was in heaven whacking out pretty shaped date ma’maouls on Saturday afternoon.

date ma'amoul

When I was researching a recipe, I came across a hundred different kinds! Some used all semolina; some used part semolina and part flour; some used all flour and some used flour and ground almonds. I just about went crazy at all the different kinds. Then I read Claudia Roden’s recipe from her book The New Book of Middle Eastern Food and found out that in Syria and Lebanon they use semolina instead of flour. The recipe my Algerian friend gave me included ground almonds and so I figured, that’s how they make them in Algeria. 

I will one day, make them all and see which one I like but for today, I am going to make Claudia’s Egyptian recipe. I know I like these, they are so good; buttery like melt in your mouth shortbread with a delicate hint of orange blossom water. They are so good, that when I gave my Algerian friend some, she said that she liked them more than hers! 

So, if you’ve been wanting to make them but haven’t taken the plunge, do it! You don’t need the pretty moulds though pretty cookies make everything better. You can easily stuff them and use a fork to press in a pattern. I will be getting some of my own moulds very soon but till then I used my friend’s.

They go perfectly with some Turkish coffee, cardamom tea or mint tea (or in my case, all three).

date ma'amoul


Date Ma’amouls

Serves: 24-30

Delicious date filled shortbread cookies, adapted from Claudia Roden
  • 3 cups/430g plain/all purpose flour
  • 2 sticks/226g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons orange blossom/rose water
  • 4-5 tablespoons milk
  • powdered sugar for sprinkling
  • ready made date paste (or can make your own)
  1. If you are going to make your own date paste, cut 1 pound of pitted dates into pieces and add to a saucepan with ½ cup/118mL of water.
  2. Cook over low heat, stirring, until they turn into a soft paste.
  3. Let it cool.
  4. Alternatively, you can use a ready made paste like I did.
  5. I made my life simpler by making the dough in a food processor, but you can easily do it by hand.
  6. Put the flour and butter into a bowl of a food processor and pulse until the butter is mixed into the flour.
  7. Add the orange blossom or rose water and 3 tablespoons of milk.
  8. Pulse until the dough comes together.
  9. If it feels dry, add milk, a tablespoon at a time (mine took 4 tablespoons) until the dough comes together into a nice soft dough.
  10. I used a 1 ounce/28g cookie scoop to scoop out about 22 balls.
  11. If you make the balls smaller, like the size of a walnut, you can get about 40 (according to Claudia, but I don't see how that's possible)
  12. The most I think you can get, to get good size ma'maouls is about 24-30.
  13. After making the balls, take one ball and hollow it out with your thumb and work into a cone or pot shape.
  14. Fill the hole with a small ball of date paste and bring the dough up and over the filling, sealing it.
  15. Roll into a ball and put aside to shape.
  16. Repeat with the rest of the balls.
  17. If you are free forming them, flatten slightly and prick with the tines of the fork to make a pattern.
  18. If you have moulds, then press them into a well floured mould and whack them out.
  19. Bake in a preheated 325℉/165℃ oven for 20-25 minutes.
  20. Do not let them brown or else they will taste terrible.
  21. They will look uncooked but on cooling they will firm up.
  22. When cool, dust them with powdered sugar and store in an air tight container.

date ma'amoul

I hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend and are off to a great start to the week. I will be visiting all the blogs very soon but even though Ramadan has ended, the craziness of back to school has started. My children all have registration this week and Laith starts with his soccer practice. I hope I can catch up. One more thing that is making me feel very old indeed; my eldest is starting her college classes. Oh, I feel old.

Have a wonderful week and please send me some happy thoughts to get through my old age.

  1. Pingback: Another Wonderful Weekend | Running on Oatmeal

  2. Nazeen, I have been looking for the longest time for a mould to bake some ma´amouls myself but, alas, I have not been able to find one…I will keep looking though and your lovely post encoourages me to try to make them “free form”, with just my hands. Your cookies look elegant and utterly delicious and since I love dates, this recipe shall be my guide once I get started baking ma´amouls.
    Thanks for posting – I am readingy my way through your wonderful blog posts, what terrific recipes and pictures you posted!
    Have a great day!
    TheKitchenLioness recently posted..Cheese Bites – KäsegebäckwürfelMy Profile

  3. Hi Nazneen – I love ma’mouls so much – I’m a convert! I was introduced to their awesomeness after seeing a recipe on another blog a year ago… the blogger kindly sent me one of her own ma’amoul moulds as well so now I can make them “traditionally” myself too.

    Yours look fantastic – I love the shape and pattern… they’re dangerous to have around here though because we demolish the whole batch so fast, lol! 😀
    Charles recently posted..Apricot and Almond NougatMy Profile

    • Thanks Charles. They’re dangerous here too! This shape is ideally for a pistachio/ nut filled ma’maoul, but this is what I had so I went with it. I do like the pattern on these ones though!

  4. I have seen these on a cooking show some time back and was so excited about the concept of a filling inside a cookie. Then it just slipped my mind. Now looking at your recipe, I am inspired to look out for these moulds. They are so unique and I can imagine how delicious they would have turned out!

    • These are great Sonali, love ma’maouls. They are easy too because the dough is so easy to work with, have a go without the moulds till you get some. Unless you know somebody in the ME. xx

  5. I think your pulling our leg. You must have made these before as look how perfect they turned out. They look so light and I love anything with date so I would be all over these little delights. A great recovery cookie after a long month of fasting. Take care of yourself! BAM
    Bam’s Kitchen recently posted..Yam Som OhMy Profile

  6. These look so terrific for a first try! They really look lovely – I love the shape. I’ve eaten these, but never made them. I should try them sometime (or more like, encourage my wife – the real baker in the family – to give these a go). Good recipe, lovely post – thanks.
    john@kitchenriffs recently posted..The Scorpion CocktailMy Profile

    • Thanks John! They’re actually not the correct shape for a date ma’amoul, this shape is for the nut filled ones. Date ones are usually flatter and rounder, but this is what I had to work with so I took it! They are very cute though.

  7. I’m so glad you finally got to relax a lil’. You are a superwoman and need to take it easy from time to time ;). I’ve never heard of date ma’amouls before, but it reminds me of this one korean baked bread… it has red bean paste rather than date. I love red bean paste! This looks like a fun “project” to do with my husband on a lazy Sunday afternoon! Thank you for sharing and hope you have a wonderful week, Nazneen!

  8. I am glad that you good Eid and succeeded in keeping all the fasts with full satisfaction. Reading your post I almost feel that I am at your home enjoying date ma’amouls. They look delicious!

  9. I bet these cookies taste wonderful, Nazneen. They all look so good I’d swear they were professionally prepared. I really do enjoy anything with almond paste and have since I was a little boy. I don’t think I could make these without eating half of them before nightfall. I feel that I missed a golden opportunity to sample a number of great treats last week. I failed to get to the Middle Eastern bakery following Ramadan’s end. What a mistake that was, eh? I’ll do better next year. Promise! 🙂
    ChgoJohn recently posted..The Kitchens are in a PickleMy Profile

    • Thank you John! Don’t fret, ME bakeries always have cool things on hand and I know that Shatila in Dearborn has stuff all year round. Just stop by one day and see what’s there.

  10. The first time I ate ma’amouls it was at a Lebanese center that gave us a plateful of these cookies as a compliment. To me, at that time, they looked like any other shortbread cookies. Until I opened them, and then fell in love with them. My God, I adore these. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe Nazneen, and wish you Eid Mubarak 🙂
    minnie@thelady8home recently posted..Niagara Falls – wordless wonderMy Profile

  11. Your cookies look so perfect and beautiful.
    What a great compliment to get from your Algerian friend.
    Glad Eid went well and as you wrote, as much as it is hard, it is for sure rewarding. Love Mamouls…I would love to like to get my hands on that mold.But I do have moon cake molds, yayy, will use those instead. I keep hunting for recipes to use my moon cake molds and here is the recipe. Thanks Nazneen.

    • Thanks Asha! I saw the moon moulds on Amazon and was thinking that they could work. If you try them, let me know!

  12. Welcome back(ish)! Those ma’amouls look beautiful, and I don’t know how you could bear to make them without having such a pretty mould on hand because they turn out so well! In my previous job I had a colleague who was Greek and his grandmother made a similar cookie to your ma’amouls which, to our delight, he would bring in for us all to share – I think these are a truly multicultural cookie!

    And don’t worry about getting old. From what I can tell, it’s actually a lot of fun 😉
    Jas@AbsolutelyJas recently posted..Old Man FlickaMy Profile

    • Thank you Jas, I agree, I couldn’t make them without a pretty mould! Thats why I asked my friend if I got borrow hers!