I grew up in a Moroccan home, where food and hospitality played a central role. I mainly remember Mimouna and Sukkot, where the door of the house (or the sukkah) was never closed – people came and went throughout the day, and the women of the family made sure to pour tea and ma’amoul cookies to the guests. For my grandmother, who taught me to make ma’amoul cookies, food was an expression of love and the more complex the dish, the greater the investment required, the more delicate and precise the handiwork – the greater the love. So when I was invited, together with the members of Nomads Kitchen, to cook a Sukkot meal at the “Tish” festival for Jewish food held at the POLIN Museum- Museum of the History of Polish Jews- I decided to prepare my grandmother’s ma’amoul. Each time I make dish, I feel like I’m putting my heart on the table.
This class, in which I taught Polish cooks to prepare my grandmother’s ma’amoul in the olive wood molds that I brought with me from Israel, touched my heart deeply. It was their first encounter with ma’amoulim – the delicate shell that melts in your mouth, the perfect combination of sweetness and spice – but I felt that they understand exactly what these cookies mean to me. It doesn’t matter if they are Moroccans who make ma’amoulim or Poles who fold kreplach – every grandmother expresses love in the same way.
Ingredients for Ma'amoul
For the Dough:
- 5.3 oz (150 grams) semolina
- 8.8 oz (250 grams) flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- pinch Salt
- ½ teaspoon Mahlab ground (optional- mahlab is a spice made from the ground up seeds of St. Lucy cherries and can be found in specialty spice markets)
- 1.75 oz (50 grams) confectioners' sugar
- 7 oz (200 grams) butter softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons rosewater not extract
For the Filling:
- 8.8 oz (250 grams) Dates vacuum packed
- ½ teaspoon rosewater
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- handful almonds chopped
- pinch ground cloves
- pinch Salt
- confectioners' sugar
Prepare the Dough:
1. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix semolina, flour, baking powder, salt, mahlab, and powdered sugar until a crumbly mixture is formed. Add rose water and mix briefly, just until you get a uniform dough.
2. Transfer the dough to a work surface, roll out, flatten into a thin disk, wrap in plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to rest for 4 hours or overnight.
Prepare the filling:
3. Mix all the stuffing ingredients until you get a uniform paste.
Assemble and bake:
4. Heat the oven to 338F (170C) degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
5. Take the dough out of the refrigerator, tear off small pieces and roll into small balls with a diameter of 1.25-1.5 inches (3-4 cm) weighing 35 grams each, then make a small hole in the center of one of the balls with your finger. Take a teaspoon of the filling and place in the hole. Gather the edges of the dough around the filling and close it up back into a ball.
6. Shape the ball of dough in a ma'amoul mold: flour the dough ball well (otherwise it will stick to the mold) and press it into the mold. Turn the mold over the counter and lightly hit the counter with the edge of the mold - the shaped ma'amoul will jump out. Alternatively, you can design the ma'amoul "freestyle", with the help of a tweezer.
7. Fill and shape all the cookies in the same way and arrange them in on a baking sheet at intervals.
8. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until the bottom of the ma'amoul is slightly golden.
9. Remove from the oven and cool. Before serving, dust with powdered sugar.