Sunday, March 9, 2008

Mamoul


This story actually starts with a meat market and ends with a Middle Eastern cookie -- strange I know... but, that's the way life goes sometimes.

We had heard from several people that the Laurel meat market was a great place to find and buy meat and we finally made it over there Saturday morning. It was very disappointing. First, it smelled bad when you walked in -- Chris thought it was due to the all the pet food near the front of the store, but the back smelled bad too -- and I don't like buying my food from a place that stinks. Second, the meat selection wasn't actually all that impressive. Sure, it's nice to have butchers there to prep whatever cut you want, but the truth is that the Safeway we normally go to has a much bigger selection of meat, a cleaner environment, and friendly butchers who are happy to help you out, you just have to track them down.

However, the trip was not a total loss because we noticed a little Middle Eastern market just up the road from the meat market. One of the first things Chris saw when he went through the door were Mamoul forms -- something I had never heard of -- but he was very excited about them. For everyone who doesn't know (which included me until yesterday) Mamouls are a type of cookie that are traditionally filled with dried fruits and nuts (figs/dates/apricots and walnuts/pistashios.) You make a dough and a filling, then you form the dough into a ball around the filling and smash the whole thing into the form before tapping it out. They make very attractive and very dense cookie. (very similar to Moon Cakes actually...)



We bought a couple of the Mamoul forms, as well as a package of pre-made Mamouls for comparison and went home with a mission... well, Chris was on the mission, I was along for moral support and technical help as needed. He found several recipes online and finally settled on a recipe from Mahanandi, a fellow food blogger. If you look at her pictures the dough looks well-formed, and just a little crumbly, but still workable. When Chris made it, it was a total crumbly mess. We thought we were going to have to throw out the dough and try again -- in fact, Chris went upstairs to find another recipe -- but while he was upstairs I was tossing a lime-sized piece of the crumble-mess from hand to hand wondering what went wrong with it, and the amazing thing is that as it warmed up it started to come together.

We ended up working each piece of dough for 5-10 minutes to make one cookie, which is one of the reasons we only made six of them. But we did get six of them which was better than we expected when we first started working with the dough.



Chris made a date & pistachio filling that nearly burned out the motor on our little food processor, but it's sticky sweet and good. The dough has a lot of semolina flour in it which makes it kind of gritty when you work with it and when you eat it. Overall, the dough is crumbly like shortbread with a slightly yeasty flavor. The dough isn't all that sweet, which is probably a good thing since the filling is extremely sweet from the dates.



We will definitely make Mamouls again, but we are going to try other recipes for the dough -- Gourmet Sleuth has a recipe that Chris is considering, I know there is at least one recipe on the Food Network website and Chris has at least one more in mind. The only bad thing is that all the recipes seem to be totally different, so finding an authentic one might be a bit of a challenge.

8 comments:

bjs said...

sounds good! Probably also the most elegant-looking cookie i've seen outside of china!

burkie said...

those are really pretty. i wonder what else you could use those molds for?
-jb

Anonymous said...

oh, and the second experiment tasted better than they look, so i'm sure the perfect match is coming soon. looking forward to the apricot & raisin and fig & walnut combos. and the inevitable bacon mamoul :)
-jb

Anonymous said...

my first comment about these was that i was that i'm happy to be a mamoul guinea pig as you explore different recipes. these i thought looked better than i tasted, but i'm not a big fan of rose water. i want to be, i keep trying to like it, but nothing i've tried it in has won me over yet.
-jb

Anonymous said...

Is this Julie? My grandmother's sister used to place her shintan's (underwear - clean of course) over them while they where baking... they would bake evenly. So delicious!

C's Learning Treasures said...

Hi, I see this is an old post but I wanted to share my easy,simple mamoul dough recipe. I used a variety of recipes and ended up with this one,it takes minutes to throw together.I have been making mamoul for 18 years and this one has been my staple for last few because it is fast.

place in a large bowl 3 1/2 cups of semolina flour, 3 cups regular flour and 2 tablespoons of baking powder and 1/2 cup sugar.

Next add 4 sticks of melted butter(yes this is not light)

1/2 cup of a combo of rose and orange blossem waters

Now mix together and add milk by sight,just enough to make easy to work with. Don't over mix or it will become tough, just causually blend with a spoon.It makes about 40 cookies depending on your mold size.

That's it, it's best if you cover with plastic wrap and leave outside for about 20 minutes,during this time you could prepare your fillings.

Tip:Always rollcookies in powdered sugar after they are cool and wrap in wax paper rectangles individually afterwards. This makes them stay fresh and moist longer.

Leslie said...

This recipe is really good!



Maamoul: Stuffed Date-Orange Cookies

· From Food Network Kitchens
· Prep Time: 45 min Inactive
· Prep Time: 1 hr 0 min
· Cook Time: 30 min Level:
· Intermediate Serves: 20 cookies

Ingredients

Filling:

· 1/2 pound pitted soft Medjool dates
· 2 tablespoons water
· Pinch fine salt
· 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
· 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
· Dough:
· 2 cups all-purpose flour
· 1 teaspoon baking powder
· 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar, plus about 1/2 to 2 cups more for dusting
· Pinch fine salt
· 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), plus 2 tablespoons
· 2 tablespoons neutral flavored oil, such as canola
· 1/4 cup milk

Directions

· Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

· To make the filling: Puree the filling ingredients in a food processor until evenly combined, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and set aside. Clean the processor bowl.

· Put the flour, baking powder, the 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar, and salt in the bowl of food processor and pulse 3 to 4 times to mix. Add the butter, oil, and milk pulsing until the dough just comes together. Take care not to overwork the dough; it will be slightly wet.

· Remove dough from the processor, and roll into 20 equally sized balls. In the palm of your hand, press and pat each ball of dough into a 2 3/4-inch round. Place a rounded teaspoon of filling in the center of each round and draw the edges up and around the filling. Pinch the dough together to make a sealed ball, and then carefully roll the cookie between your palms to make a smooth round ball. Press gently to flatten the cookie slightly, then place them seamed side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Gently prick the cookies with a fork or a wooden skewer in a decorative pattern taking care not to pierce the dough to the filling.

· Bake the cookies until firm and slightly puffed, and the tops are pale but the bottoms are just beginning to turn slightly golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Dust generously with confectioners' sugar, cool and dust again.

Other fillings we love:

Apricot Golden Raisin Nut Filling:

· 1/3 cup golden raisins
· 3 tablespoons apricot jam
· Pinch fine salt
· Puree in a food processor until evenly combined.
· 1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped (other nuts can be substituted)



Quince-Walnut Filling:

· 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
· 1/3 cup quince jam
· Pinch fine salt
· Puree in a food processor until evenly combined.

tom | tall clover farm said...

I've just learned about the Mamoul from another site -- taste of beirut.com, and she has several recipes on her site if anyone is interested. Thanks for highlighting a new cookie I get to make and eat! So little time, so many delicious morsels. ;-)