Cookie Calendar: Maamoul

I made these particular cookies last year. It was the first (well, and only) time I've ever worked with dates. I'm a big fan of those bacon-wrapped dates and Middle Eastern-style desserts, so I had to try these.

Don't expect the cookie dough part to shine. The outside looks like a soft biscuit, and the taste is none too sweet with so little sugar. But then, the dough part is just the vehicle for delivering that sweet, fruity filling to your mouth, and you don't want the outside bit to steal the show.

It's kind of like a Fig Newton but so much prettier.

Use the high-quality Medjool dates for best results. If you don't see crystallized ginger sitting around where they keep the fruitcake ingredients, check the spice aisle. McCormick sells bottles of it with their fancy line of spices, and one of their jars equals a 1/4 cup.
And if you have the money for it, buy two jars of that stuff. Crystallized ginger is seriously delicious.

Cookie Tip #17: Check with your guests before the big day to see if there are any dietary needs you will need to account for in your baking. For example, you might need to whip up some nut-free choices (plan on a separate platter for those so there isn't cross-contamination that could trigger allergies) or something gluten-free such as coconut macaroons. As for all those butter- and egg-hating vegans, well, there's always dark chocolate bark.

Source: Food Network
Yield: 20 cookies

  • ½ lb. pitted soft Medjool dates

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • Pinch fine salt

  • ¼ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

  • ½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest


  • 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

  • ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), plus 2 tablespoons

  • 2 tablespoons neutral flavored oil, such as canola

  • ¼ cup milk

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 hazelnuts, toasted and chopped (other nuts can be substituted)
1/3 cup golden raisins
3 tablespoons apricot jam
Pinch fine salt

Puree in a food processor until evenly combined.

Quince-Walnut Filling:
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1/3 cup quince jam
Pinch fine salt

Puree in a food processor until evenly combined.

Download Maamoul into MacGourmet.

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