Mmmmm... Ma'amoul, how I've missed you.
There were so many things that kept us apart for the last seven years, but I hung on to the memories of the good times we had. Back when I could eat both gluten and dates and nuts.
I always wondered if there was some way we could make it work between us.
And now we have...
In case you didn't know, maamoul is a Middle Eastern cookie / pastry / biscuit much like a fig newton. Except that they're usually filled with date or nut spread and made in a mold (don't worry, you can make them without a mold, too).
They're not too sweet, not too fatty, and go absolutely perfect with a cup of tea or Homemade Turkish Coffee.
I used to buy maamoul by the box-load. You can usually find them in places like Superstore, other major markets with a decent ethnic selection, or your local Middle Eastern / Persian market.
But those ones are glutinous and usually date-filled. Since I can't have either, I finally managed to finagle a recipe for gluten free ma'amoul (also spelled maamoul by some).
There are also lovely molds you can buy to use. I couldn't actually find one locally, but you can order them online. I also suspect a mooncake mold would make beautiful maamoul.
A little word of warning: Unlike many of my recipes, maamoul takes a bit of time to make, and a teeny bit of fiddly work. Once you get the hang of it, it's super easy, and I highly recommend turning on some music and doing this with friends or kids!
If you want to make these with dried dates instead of figs, you can simply substitute the dates for the figs in the recipe.
Here's my pictorial on how to make ma'moul: (recipe below)
(Sorry, some of these were taken inside, at night, with greasy fingers, and then I photoshopped the bejeezus out of them)
|Get yourself some dried figs, available at most ethnic stores or large markets, and blend into filling|
|Divide the dough and roll into balls (WHY do my hands always look so enormous and hideous in photos?!!)|
|Divide filling into an equal amount of balls, flatten dough ball and place filling in centre|
|Work dough up around filling to encase it completely|
|Flatten ball into a puck shape, or a an oval (see below for ovals)|
|Press thumb into centre and prick with a fork in a decorative design, if desired|
|Pucks and ovals, side by side on parchment-lined baking sheet|
|Bake and dust with icing powder, if desired. I ended up with twenty-one in total.|
|Look at that gorgeous filling, and biscuit-like / shortbread surrounding! Sooooo good.|
Ingredients for Gluten Free Ma'amoul (makes approximately 20-21 cookies) vegan option
Fig or Date Filling
0.5 lbs (approx. 225-250 grams) dried dates or figs
2 1/2 Tbsp water or milk
2 tsp orange blossom water (optional, but so good)
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
3/4 cup tapioca starch
1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp chilled, unsalted butter (or vegan butter or coconut oil - which will change the flavour)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp orange blossom water (or vanilla, if preferred)
1/4 cup milk of choice
Directions to make maamoul without a mold
1) For the filling: Soak figs or dates in water and orange blossom water for 10 minutes to soften. Blend all filling ingredients in a food processor until a smooth paste is formed. Roll into approximately 20 small balls and set aside on a plate, parchments, or waxed paper. (Unless you want to make these as fig newtons, then you'll spread the filling over a sheet of dough)
2) For the dough: Sift together flour through to and including baking powder. Cut in butter (or pulse in a food processor) until dough is crumbly. Mix in olive oil, orange blossom water, and milk until dough forms a slightly crumbly ball. Divide into approximately 20 balls, and keep covered with a damp towel.
3) To form the maamoul: Flatten a ball of dough in the palm of your hand. Place a ball of filling in the centre, and work the dough up around the filling. Flatten dough ball into a puck shape, or an oval. Press a thumb into the centre of the circle, and prick with a fork.
3a) To make fig newtons: Divide all the dough into 2. On a sheet of waxed paper, dusted with rice flour, roll out one half into a rectangle. On a separate sheet, roll out remaining dough to a similarly sized rectangle. Spread one sheet with filling, and cover with the other half of dough. Cut into rectangles, then squares.
4) Arrange cookies on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake 20 minutes at 325 F. Cool on a cooling rack, then dust with icing sugar if desired.
Have you ever tried Ma'amoul?
Why not try them with some Turkish Coffee?
I show you how to make it in this little tutorial
Speaking of the Middle East, did you know I'm running a Goodreads Giveaway for the 3rd novel in my Ancient Egyptian Romances series?
You can enter for the chance to win below!