Arabic Cookies - M'amoul

08 March 2011



I love arabic food. I love arabic delights. In fact I love everything sweet from anywhere in world. And I love to explore new and different tastes. When I saw a bowl full of dates in the kitchen cabinet that was almost untouched and I do not think anyone had really bothered to steal much from it, I could not resist to make these lovely arabian cookies - M'amouls - which are small Middle eastern shortbread pastries filled with dates, pistachios or walnuts. These are traditionally formed as round or flat with a wooden form, but as I did not have it, I formed them as balls and used scissors to pinch them all around.
 


This was my first time try ever on these cookies. But I have bited in these crunchy delights before, when our arabian neighbours has sent some of these in the past. I simply loved these small cookies filled with different sweet fillings. The most exciting part is that you never know what kind of filling you can expect when taking the first bite.
M'amouls are usually made with semolina flour mixed with all-purpose flour and few drops of orange blossom water or rose water which gives these cookies a more crisp texture and an exotic flavor. Ofcourse these can be made without semolina and only with flour for those who prefer that, but personally I think the semolina flour gives this extra touch which characterize these cookies. There are used different kind of fillings, and you could fill anything you would like, but typical fillings are dates, pistachios and walnuts as most common. Since I had dates in my hand, I naturally went for the date filling which I blended with ground almonds and toasted, chopped cashew nuts. I had more dough than filling, so I filled rest of the dough with almond macaroon (ground almonds mixed with sugar and eggwhite). The cookie dough recipe is adapted from the arabian cooking webpage
DedeMed, and there is actually a video there for most of the recipes which makes it easier to follow them.



Makes about 22-24 small cookies

I n g r e d i e n t s

120 g all-purpose flour
80 g semolina flour
0,5 tsp baking powder
0,6 dl milk
113 g butter, softened (creamy)
0,5 tbsp orange blossom water / rose water / kewra water

1. In a large bowl combine flour, semolina and baking powder, mix well
2. Add creamy butter, milk and orange blossom water (or the one you are using) to the dry ingredients and mix until a dough is formed
3. Chill preferabely overnight or atleast 4 hours in refrigerator

NB! If you want the dough a bit sweet, replace 1-2 tbsp flour with same amount of icing sugar


Filling

250 g dates, pitted
50 g almonds
50-75 g cashew nuts
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp orange blossom water (or other)


1. Boil some water in a sauce pan and put a sieve on top of it
2. Put all the pitted dates on the sieve (they will get the heat from boiling water) and let the water boil until dates become moist and soft and can be mashed up easily
3. Meanwhile, ground the almonds and toast the cahsew nuts in a little butter for few minutes until golden in color
4. Chop roughly the chilled cashew nuts
5. In a bowl, combine the boiled dates, ground almonds, chopped cashew nuts, honey and orange blossom water and mix well (consistency has to be like a really thick puree)


How to

1. Divide the dough into 22-24 small equally sized balls and flatten each of these with a rolling pin until about 5 cm in diameter
2. Add a teaspoon of filling in each of the flattened ball and press all the sides together so that it forms a ball again and the filling remains inside
3. Roll the balls again so that they become smooth
4. If you like, you may use a tweezer or scissor to pinch design on them

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 175C for about 15-20 minutes in the middle of oven until they turn golden on the bottom

Chill preferabely overnight or atleast 4-6 hours (these cookies increases taste and texture when they get to set for some time)

Roll the chilled M'amoul cookies in powdered sugar or icing sugar and serve with tea!

(For other filling ideas, look here)

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