Probably the most popular of Arab cookies. Ma'amul are short biscuits made with semolina and/or flour, stuffed with nuts or dates and daintily decorated.
40g Plain Flour
90g Caster Sugar
180g Salted Butter
3 tablespoons Orange Blossom Water
2 tablespoons Rose Water
45g Medjool Dates
1 teaspoon Cinnamon (ground)
First make the pastry:
1. Put the semolina, flour, 40g of caster sugar into a large mixing bowl and stir together.
2. Cut the butter into cubes and add this to the flour mixture, work with your fingers until the texture is like breadcrumbs.
3. Add 2 tablespoons of orange blossom water, 1 tablespoon of rose water and 1 tablespoon of water and use your hands to bring the mixture together into a ball.
4. Remove to a clean surface and knead the dough gently until smooth, approximately 5 minutes.
5. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
While the pastry rests make the filling:
1. Place the pistachios, dates, 50g caster sugar, cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of orange blossom water and 1 tablespoon of rose water in a food processor bowl.
2. Blitz until you get a coarse paste.
To mould the cookies:
1. Preheat the oven to 180C or the equivalent.
2. Get a bowl of water ready so that you can keep your hands damp while you work, to help prevent the dough from cracking.
3. Divide the dough into approx 30 pieces of equal size.
4. Take a piece of dough and roll it into a ball. Flatten it in the cup of your hand and turning it around as you do so, use your thumb to press it flat and then lift the edges to shape a little 'pot'. The sides need to be about 2.5cm high and 3mm thick.
5. Fill the pastry pot with a heaped tablespoon of the filling.
6. Pinch the dough over the filling so that the pot is sealed and then gently roll it into a ball again.
7. Flatten the ball between the palms of our hands, the sides now need to be around 3cm high and, either place directly onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper or place into a ma'amul mould and press down lightly to indent the pattern before tipping onto the baking tray.
8. Repeat until you have used all the pastry/filling.
9. If you haven't used a mould, take a fork and press down gently on the top of each cookie to make like patterns with the tines.
10. Bake for 12-14 minutes. The cookies need to be cooked through but care must be taken to stop them taking on any colour.
11. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool before dousing liberally with icing sugar and serving.