Traditionally, they’re made in special wooden molds that imprint the pastry with individual designs – so you know if your ma’amoul is stuffed with walnuts, dates, or pistachios, without having to take a bite.
People all over the Middle East eat them at holiday times: Moslems during the nights of Ramadan, and Christian Arabs at Easter time. Jews of Egyptian and Lebanese origin eat ma’amoul stuffed with nuts at Purim because tradition says that Queen Esther, heroine of the Purim story, ate nothing but nuts, seeds, and fruit from the day she entered Ahasuerus’s palace. And as she hid her Jewish origin, so the dainty pastry hides the rich nut filling inside.
Lacking the special mold, you can simply roll walnut-sized balls of pastry, drop a teaspoon of filling in the center of each round, and gather the edges up towards the top, pressing it shut to hide the filling. Here’s the recipe.
Cook Time: 15 minutes
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup semolina
2 sticks salted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water or 1/2 teaspoon rose water
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup chopped nuts (pistachios, walnuts, or almonds)
powdered sugar for dusting
2 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a medium bowl, combine flour and semolina. Set aside.
In a smaller bowl, beat together butter for 30-45 seconds. Slowly add in flour mixture untill combined. Stir in milk, allspice, and orange blossom water. Roll dough into 12 pieces.
In a small bowl, combine nuts and sugar. Set aside.
Grab your dough and push into 2 inch circles onto parchment lined cookie sheet. Place about 1 teaspoon of nut mixture on top of dough. Fold and press dough together to seal the filling. Repeat with remaining dough and nut mixture.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.