Hey, everyone! So I know lately I’ve been a little absent and not so on time with the posts. I’m really trying to figure out how to be efficient with this blogging thing. It’s been a hectic few months, but I’m getting into the drift of things. Anyways, Eid is around the corner, so I thought these cookies would be the perfect way to start off the holiday. Growing up, my mom used to make Eid a big thing. She would decorate the house and make plenty of desserts, and these cookies were a staple. I used to beg her to make them before sending us to sleep so I could eat a few warm. Most of the time she would wait till after we went to bed so she could have the peace and quiet to make them. But sometimes she’d make a tray before sending us off to bed. Regardless, I would still eat a ton the next morning. The scent of the butter and dates are just so warm and satisfying. As you bite into the cookie you get the slightest crisp right before it crumbles into your mouth and you get a taste of the soft and perfectly sweet dates. The combo is definitely a stellar one. And they taste even better dusted with the slightest amount of powdered sugar. Most of the time I’m too lazy and just pop them in one after another. They will forever be my favorite part of the holidays. I hope to keep this tradition running in my family so my kids will one day do the same.
These cookies are definitely time consuming and detailed work. But they aren’t difficult. You just need to follow the instructions very carefully. If you do, I promise you that you will get a good cookie. It may not be perfect the first time, but I promise you’ll get there. And it’s definitely worth it! Here are a few tips that I found helpful throughout the process!
- Measure your ingredients exactly. This is the time to wipe off the excess off the top of the measuring cup.
- Measure your Crisco melted, and measure it separately from the vegetable oil. Also, make sure your melted Crisco is at room temperature before pouring into the semolina. If you pour it hot on the semolina it won’t be absorbed correctly and will affect the dough later.
- Make sure to make the semolina mixture at least a day ahead. You can even keep it for up to 6 months. But give it at least a day for the semolina to absorb the oils.
- Once you’re ready to knead the milk into the semolina mixture to form the dough, I would recommend you split it into three portions. I say this because once you add the yeast and knead the dough you only have about 45 minutes to make the cookies. If you don’t finish them before the yeast begins to really rise, the dough will be difficult to work with. I typically weigh the semolina mixture then evenly divide it into three portions. This way when I add the yeast and spices, I also divide them into three.
- I also make the date balls the day before. This makes the process a lot easier the day of. I use 1 tsp measuring spoon so all my date balls are the same. I lightly grease it. I have yet to find 1 tsp cookie scoop. God would that make the process easier.
- It will take time to get a feel for the dough. I can give specific measurements for everything but the milk. Once you begin kneading it’s all approximate. It depends on the semolina you use, the weather where you’re at, and sometimes the kind of milk. You wanna knead in the milk by pouring a little at a time and flaking the semolina and milk between your fingers. It’ll slowly come together into a dough. The dough will be tough but hold. You want to add enough milk to make it soft, but not soggy where it falls apart. If you’re doing it right, the dough will be soft, but won’t stick to your hands. You’ll get a feel for the dough. It should be easy to flatten and stuff. If it’s too tough it’ll crumble and if it’s too soggy it won’t hold. Go slow on the milk and you’ll reach the correct consistency. It doesn’t take that much milk. Typically when I divide the semolina into thirds, each batch takes about 1/4 cup of milk.
- Once the dough is ready and the correct consistency I measure it out so the process goes faster. I use a small cookie scooper and measure all the dough. Each 1/3 batch typically gives me 30-35 cookies. I use a 1 tsp measuring spoon to measure the dates so the date balls are just slightly smaller than the dough. This way it’s full but closes nicely.
If you have everything ready the process is pretty smooth. I have the semolina and dates ready the night before. The day of, I knead milk into 1/3 of the semolina with the correct amount of yeast and spices. I then measure out the dough with a Small Cookie Scoop. The dates are ready and set aside. I flatten each ball of dough into a small circle in the palm of my hand, place the date ball and wrap the dough around it. I roll it into a ball of date stuffed dough then place on the pan. I repeat with all. I then use the round end of a wooden spoon or my pinky finger to pierce the middle of each ball. I take the hole all the way down to the bottom. Then I use my special Maamoul Tweezers, or a fork to decorate the Maamoul. Finally, I bake the Maamoul for a few minutes, cool, and enjoy! I know it seems like a long process and it may seem overwhelming, but it really isn’t. Just make sure to read this and understand the process before. Then make sure to measure correctly and remain organized. It really helps and will make the process a lot easier. Feel free to comment or message me if you have any questions throughout the process.
- 4 Cups Semolina
- 1 Cup Flour
- 1 1/2 Cups Melted Crisco (Yellow Butter Flavored)
- 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 1/2 TBSP Yeast
- 2 TBSP Ground Anise Seeds
- 1/8 tsp Ground Mahlab
- 1/8 tsp Ground Mastic
- 4 13 oz. Packs Baking Dates
- 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp Ground Nutmeg
- 2 TBSP Olive Oil
- 3/4 Cup Warm Milk (As needed)
- Powdered Sugar
- Step 1 The day before you plan on making the Maamoul prepare the semolina and oil mixture. Melt the Crisco and then measure. Allow it to come to room temperature. Measure the oil and set aside. Mix the flour and semolina. After the melted Crisco has cooled pour the melted Crisco and oil on the semolina flour mixture. Using your hands, rub the semolina flour mixture with the Crisco and oil so all the semolina is coated well. Cover and set aside for at least 24 hours.
- Step 2 Prepare the dates by sprinkling 1/2 TBSP Ground Anise Seeds, 1 tsp Cinnamon, 1/8 tsp Ground Nutmeg, and the Olive Oil. Knead it well and measure out 1 tsp balls. Place on a greased tray and set aside. Mix the remaining 1 1/2 Ground Anise, the Mahlab, and the Mastic. Set Aside.
- Step 3 When you are ready to work with the semolina warm the milk. I work in three batches so the whole dough doesn’t rise. Evenly split the semolina oil mixture into three. Begin working the first batch. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp Yeast and 1/2 TBSP of the Anise mixture onto the semolina. Mix in well. Warm 1/4 cup of milk to about 100 degrees.
- Step 4 Slowly pour the milk, 1 TBSP at a time onto the semolina mixture as you rub it between your fingers to knead the dough. Once the dough begins to hold be careful with the milk. You want to add enough so the dough holds but isn’t soggy. You also don’t want it to be dry. Feel free to add more milk if needed.
- Step 5 Measure the dough using a small cookie scoop and line on a tray. Flatten each ball of dough into a small disc and place a ball of dates in the middle. Wrap the dough around the dates and place on the tray. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough.
- Step 6 Using a round ended wooden spoon, or your pinky finger, pierce the middle of each ball of dough all the way to the bottom.
- Step 7 Use your maamoul tweezers or a fork to decorate the maamoul.
- Step 8 Bake at 500 F for 5-8 minutes or until bottoms are browned and tops are slightly browned.
- Step 9 Cool completely and store in a covered container for up to 6 months.