Maamoul or mamool are small shortbread cookies traditionally filled with dates, pistachios or walnuts. They are popular in Syria and Levantine cuisine (Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon).

 Making maamoul is usually an event for family and friends to come together, all helping and participating in making the dough, filling the cookies, forming them and baking them. All this happens in a cozy atmosphere filled with chats about the Christmas, Eid preparations and plans. As soon as the first baking sheet goes into the oven, a cloud of spice and heavenly smells fills the house and it suddenly feels like Eid is indeed a couple of days away. 

Maamool cookies are usually formed into unique shapes using hand carved wooden molds that not only make the cookies look special but they help you tell what type of filling is in each cookie. The flat round ones are filled with dates, the elongated oval ones and the oval ones are for the nut fillings: pistachios and walnuts. Another way of forming the cookies would be using special decorating tweezers. The tweezers are used to pinch the dough to form different patterns


Maamoul dough recipe:

200 gm butter (room temperature)

200 gm margarine (room temperature) or ghee (melted)

1 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup powder milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon yeast

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground mahlab

1/4 teaspoon mastic, ground finely

1 kg flour.

Filling recipe

500 gm chopped walnuts and 1/2 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons orange blossom water, 2 tablespoons butter or ghee and 1 tablespoon cinnamon



Beat the butter margarine and oil in the food processor, stand mixer or in a bowl with a whisk

Add the eggs and vanilla and beat till the mix is pale in color.

Add the sugar and powdered milk and beat till the mix is creamy and homogenous

Add the yeast, baking powder, mastic, mahlab and ground fennel

Add the flour slowly, one cup at a time and knead the dough till you get a smooth and soft dough. You may not need the whole amount of flour, stop when you get smooth dough.

Allow the dough to rest for one hour

Cut the dough into egg sized balls.

Place the dough in a mold, press firmly but do not overdo it or the maamoul will stick to the mold.

Place a kitchen towel on a cutting board or your kitchen table

Then invert the mold and tap the end of the mold on the kitchen towel and the formed cookie will fall out.

Bake maamoul on the middle rack of a preheated oven (230 C) till the edges are golden brown (5-12 minutes) and then place them under the broiler till the tops are golden brown (2-5 minutes)

Take the cookies out of the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet for 10- 15 minutes then move them to a cooling rack because they are proun to crumble if you move them when they are still hot


Lara Khouli