[Makes 2 dozen cookies]
1½ cups semolina flour
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup clarified butter or ghee, melted
8 ounces pitted dates
1 tablespoon clarified butter, melted
1 teaspoon espresso powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated orange zest
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoons orange blossom water
Ma'amoul mold, for shaping
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
Instructions: In a medium bowl, combine the semolina and all-purpose flours. Pour in the butter and rub it into the flour with your hands until all the flour is moistened. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
While the flour mixture rests, make the filling: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the dates, butter, espresso powder, cinnamon, orange zest and cardamom and process until the mixture is a sticky paste. Scoop out teaspoons of the filling and roll into balls; you should have 24. If it is too sticky, rub your hands with a little canola oil when rolling between your palms. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a small saucepan combine the milk and sugar. Heat over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves, then remove from the heat. Let cool until its warm to the touch, whisk in yeast and let stand 5 minutes, until the yeast is dissolved and foamy.
Pour the warm milk mixture into the bowl containing the flour mixture and use a rubber spatula to incorporate the ingredients until the mixture is smooth. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough into 24 balls, slightly larger than golf balls. Working with one ball of dough at a time, flatten it into a disk, and set one ball of the date filling in the center and fold the dough around the date ball until completely enclosed and round the dough again. Push the filled ball into wooden mold and flatten the bottom, then gently slap the mold on a surface to release the shaped dough. Set on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling, spacing the cookies about 1½ inches apart. Transfer to the oven and bake, rotating the pans once, until light golden brown on the edges, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Once cool, dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving. Ma’amoul will keep in a cookie tin or Tupperware for up to a week.
ABOUT REEM: Reem Assil is a multiple award-winning Palestinian-Syrian speaker & chef based in Oakland, CA working at the intersection of food, community, and social justice. With food as a tool, Reem uses Arab hospitality to build strong, resilient community.
Combining a lifelong fight for justice with nearly 20 years of nonprofit & food industry experience, Reem builds her vision for a more socially and economically just world.