What are Ma'Amoul?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Dried fruit, one of the ingredients in ma'amoul.
Dried fruit, one of the ingredients in ma'amoul.

Ma'amoul are Middle Eastern cookies which are traditionally served at festivals and on holidays. They make popular Ramadan treats, although they can also be served at Easter and various Jewish festivals. The dough used to make ma'amoul is like a shortbread, and the cookies are filled with sweetened mixtures of fruit and or nuts. Traditionally, the cookies are made in decorative molds which stamp distinctive patterns onto the finished products; certain patterns and shapes are used to indicate specific fillings.

Ghee, one of the ingredients in ma'amoul.
Ghee, one of the ingredients in ma'amoul.

These light golden crumbly sweets are very popular in the Middle East, and although they are particularly associated with festivals, it is not uncommon to find ma'amoul around the house at other times as well. The cookies are often offered to visitors and honored guests along with tea, coffee, and other beverages, depending on the region. Many bakeries carry ma'amoul and they can also be found packaged at various markets. The cookies can also be made at home; molds are helpful, although not required.

Walnuts are often used as part of the filling in ma'amoul.
Walnuts are often used as part of the filling in ma'amoul.

To make ma'amoul at home, start by mixing the dough. Dissolve one teaspoon of yeast in one tablespoon of water and allow the yeast to foam. Combine two cups of semolina flour with one half cup all purpose flour, mixing in one and one half cups of melted butter or ghee, if it is available. Add the yeast to the flour mixture, along with one tablespoon of orange, lemon, or rose water, a pinch of salt, and one half cup powdered sugar. Knead the dough well and allow it to rest for three hours while you work on the filling.

Traditionally served on holidays and festivals, ma'amoul are popular throughout the Middle East.
Traditionally served on holidays and festivals, ma'amoul are popular throughout the Middle East.

Traditional ma'amoul filling is made by grinding nuts and or dried fruit with a modest amount of brown sugar, and orange, lavender, or rose water. You should end up with around three cups of filling, which can include ingredients like dates, figs, almonds, pistachios, and walnuts. You may also want to play around with additional spices like cinnamon, cardamom, mace, and nutmeg.

Lavender is often added to ma'moul for additional flavor.
Lavender is often added to ma'moul for additional flavor.

After the dough has rested, divide it into small balls and hollow out the balls with your thumb. Scoop in a spoonful of filling and seal the balls. If you have ma'amoul molds, use them to press the cookies into shape. Otherwise, shape the balls into even spheres, domes, or slightly flattened, circular cookies. You can stamp or decorate the cookies if desired before baking at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) until they are golden brown. For extra sweetness, roll the ma'amoul in powdered sugar after they are baked.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • Dried fruit, one of the ingredients in ma'amoul.
      Dried fruit, one of the ingredients in ma'amoul.
    • Ghee, one of the ingredients in ma'amoul.
      By: Jehangir Hanafi
      Ghee, one of the ingredients in ma'amoul.
    • Walnuts are often used as part of the filling in ma'amoul.
      By: dinostock
      Walnuts are often used as part of the filling in ma'amoul.
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      Traditionally served on holidays and festivals, ma'amoul are popular throughout the Middle East.
    • Lavender is often added to ma'moul for additional flavor.
      By: Elena Moiseeva
      Lavender is often added to ma'moul for additional flavor.
    • Ma'amoul filling sometimes contains rose water.
      By: Studio Porto Sabbia
      Ma'amoul filling sometimes contains rose water.