Maamaoul or Syrian Pastries
Delicate and pastry-like, these popular Syrian cookies are delicate but easy to make. Traditionally made with either date or walnut filling, this recipe calls for dates, as well as raisins, dried apricots, and walnuts and is a typical Purim basket item. Orange extract, orange blossom water or orange oil can be used for the citrus notes but orange blossom water is the most authentic. It is available in any well-stocked supermarkets. You can form these cookies, by hand into cigar-shaped pastries or use a ma'amoules mold, a hand-held wooden mold, available in Middle Eastern food stores or through sources such as Sultan's Delight), to make the decorative shape.
Ma'amoul Cookie Dough
1 cup unsalted butter
Date Fruit Filling
1/2 cup orange juice
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large mixer bowl, stir together flour, salt, and sugar. Cut or rub butter into flour mixture until crumbly and mealy looking. Drizzle on orange water or orange oil and enough ice water to form a stiff dough. Set aside while making filling.
For the Filling, in a medium saucepan, heat orange juice, with dates, raisins, and apricots. Heat to soften fruit then add in cinnamon and lemon zest. Cook, over low heat until mixture is pasty. Cool well, then place in food processor, along with walnuts, to make into a smooth filling.
For flling, if you are using a ma'amoules mold, put about a generous tablespoon-sized portion of dough into mold and press slightly to fill out mold. Insert a teaspoonful of date filling, then cover with additional dough. Press with hands to compress cookie. Invert mold onto a work board and briskly ummold it.
© This is a Marcy Goldman/BetterBaking.com original recipe
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