These Middle Eastern date cookies are made with semolina flour. The cookies are associated with Eid al-Fitr and with iftar meals during Ramadan. Wafa Taiym makes these cookies with her three daughters every year during Ramadan.
Recipe adapted from catastrophiccook.com/maamoul
1½ cups melted Crisco (yellow butter flavored)
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup flour
4 cups semolina
3 13 oz. packs baking dates
3 Tablespoons ground anise seeds, divided
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ cup olive oil
1½ teaspoons ground mahlab
1½ teaspoons ground mastic
¾ cup warm milk (as needed)
Melt the Crisco, allow it to come to room temperature, and then measure. Measure the vegetable oil and set aside. Mix the flour and semolina. After the melted Crisco has cooled, pour the melted Crisco and oil on the semolina flour mixture. Using your hands, rub the semolina flour mixture with the Crisco and oil so all the semolina is coated well. Cover and set aside for at least 24 hours.
Prepare the dates by sprinkling on them half of the ground anise, plus the cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and olive oil. Knead it well and measure out ½-tablespoon balls. Place on a greased tray and set aside.
Mix the remaining ground anise, the mahlab, and the mastic into the semolina mixture. Evenly split the semolina mixture into three pieces. Begin working the first piece. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon yeast and mix in well. Warm 1⁄3 cup of milk to about 100 degrees. Slowly pour the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, onto the semolina mixture as you rub it between your fingers to knead the dough. Once the dough begins to hold, be careful with the milk. Add enough so the dough holds but isn’t soggy. Continue to slowly add milk until it’s soft yet absorbed. Measure the dough using a small cookie scoop and line on a tray. Flatten each ball of dough into a small disc and place a ball of dates in the middle. Wrap the dough around the dates and place on the tray. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough. Using a round-ended wooden spoon or your pinky finger, pierce the middle of each ball of dough all the way to the bottom. Use a fork to decorate the maamoul. Bake at 500F for 5-8 minutes or until bottoms are browned and tops are slightly browned. Cool completely and store in a covered container for up to 6 months.
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