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Author Notes: A semolina shortbread Lebanese/ Middle Eastern cookie bound with clarified butter, orange blossom water and rose water and accented with mahlab (an aromatic white spice used in the Middle East for baked goods). The filling is usually either dates, pistachios or walnuts! The maamoul cookies are found in every Lebanese home during Eid and Easter holidays – they are rich, buttery and extremely indulgent!! —Hadia Zbib Khanafer
Makes 40 pieces
pounds farina (the very fine semolina)
cup coarse semolina
cup all-purpose flour
cup canola oil
teaspoon active dry yeast
cup orange blossom water
cup rose water
ounces butter, to be clarified
cup raw pistachios
tablespoons orange blossom water
- Start by clarifying the butter: In a heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over low heat; remove the saucepan from the heat as soon as it has melted. Set aside for 10 minutes. You will notice the milk solids fall to the bottom. Strain it through a wire sieve lined with several layers with cheesecloth. Pour the melted butter over the cheesecloth and get rid of the milk solids. Know you have the clarified butter.
- Mix the farina and coarse semolina in a large bowl. Pour the clarified butter and knead with you hands to infuse all together. Set aside (the semolina mix needs to rest for 6 hours)
- Meanwhile, prepare the filling: place the raw pistachios in a food processor and pulse a few times to considerably grind the pistachios. Transfer to a bowl, add the sugar and orange blossom water, and mix well to fully incorporate. Set aside.
- When 6 hours have passed on soaking the semolina mix, add the all-purpose flour, active dry yeast, mahlab, canola oil, orange blossom water and rose water. Knead the sticky dough for a minute or until the dough is soft and silky. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave it to rest for 1 more hour.
- To put together: Lightly grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Place a rack in the center of the oven
- After 1 hour, knead the dough again and divide it into equal balls, roughly the size of an apricot.
- Make a hole in the center of each ball, with your finger fill the hole with a teaspoon of the pistachio filling. Seal the hole patching the dough together and roll it into a ball.
- Transfer each stuffed ball into the mold, pressing it lightly in to level it up with the mold.
- Gently tap the mold on a counter top, converting it and the maamoul will come out.
- Place it on the cookie sheet, keep the maamoul 2cm/1 inch apart.
- Bake about 15-20 minutes to a golden color. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool down, then dust with powdered sugar. How delicious!!