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Ma'amoul Cookies

5 Minute Read

Written by Abby

Ma'amoul Date Cookies are a buttery, shortbread-like traditional Middle Eastern dessert with a sweet date or nut filling.

During the season of Ramadan, we wanted to highlight some date recipes that are native to Middle Eastern culture and traditions. Ma'amoul cookies are a traditional Middle Eastern dessert served throughout the year, but especially during religious holidays like Ramadan and Eid. They're also popular during Middle Eastern Christian and Jewish communities for Easter & Purim! Preparing ma'amoul is a special family activity, passed down through generations💜

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Typically ma'amoul is filled with dates, pistachios, or walnuts, and scented with orange blossom and/or rose water aromas, which are two essential ingredients in a majority of Middle Eastern desserts. The texture is much like a buttery shortbread, with a gooey or crunchy but always sweet inside. 

As you can tell, ma'amoul isn't just your average plain circle shape that cookies typically come in. A special mold (typically wooden like this) is used to shape  and decorate the cookies with a detailed, symbolic design. Most of the decor today resemble sun bursts, being that ancient civilizations worshiped the sun it could be something that has been passed down! Other designs depict flowers and pieces of nature that symbolize spring time, which has always been seen/celebrated as a rebirth.

maamoul date cookies

Ingredients for the cookies:

    1. Semolina flour
      • Semolina is a coarser type of flour made from durum wheat, which is grown primarily in the Middle East. It has earthy aromas and a high gluten content that will give the perfect ma'amoul texture. 
    2. All purpose flour
      • This flour is super versatile and works as a great compliment to the semolina flour to create the right cookie structure. 
    3. Butter
      • You'll want this to be melted so pop in the microwave or heat over the stove on medium/low heat until entirely melted. Let it cook slightly before adding into the mixture. 
    4. Cinnamon and salt
      • This adds and enhances the flavor of the cookies. 
    5. Dry Milk
      • This gives us all the properties of milk we need without messing with the liquid portion of the recipe and elevates the flavor. 
    6. Active Dry Yeast
      • You may be used to adding baking powder instead of yeast to help bake goods rise, but yeast is needed in ma'amoul to help create a more "cakey" texture. 
    7. Milk 
      • You want this to be warm, but be sure to not overheat the milk or it will most likely kill the yeast. We recommend whole milk or 2% but nothing less than 2%. 
    8. Rose Simple Syrup
      • Sweetens the cookie dough while adding the aromas of rose (and orange blossom if desired) and feeds the yeast. To make, combine 1 cup of granulated sugar with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil then remove from heat. Let it cool to room temperature and add in several drops of rose or orange blossom water. 

ma'amoul cookies

Ingredients for the date filling:

    1. Joolies Pitted Dates 
      • Medjool dates give us that amazing ooey, gooey texture in the center of the ma'amoul and pack in good nutrients like magnesium, potassium, antioxidants and more.
    2. Butter
      • We recommend using unsalted butter. If needed, substitute with ghee.  
    3. Sesame Seeds
      • Commonly used in Middle Eastern and Asian dishes, this small seed adds a sweet, nutty taste to our filling.

HUGE thank you to our sweet friend Jenan Matari for sharing the beautiful history of this traditional Middle Eastern dessert with us💖

If you make this traditional Middle Eastern dessert, be sure to tag us on Instagram @jooliesdates and use the hashtag #jooliesdates so we can see all your date-able recreations! And you can always comment below! 
 maamoul cookies


Ma'amoul Cookies

Egg-Free, Nut-Free

  • prep time: 40 minutes
  • Bake time: 18 minutes
  • total time: 1 hour
Servings: 24
  • 2 cups semolina flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • A dash of salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 tbsp dry milk
  • 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 1/4 cup rose simple syrup
  • 1 cup Joolies dates, pitted
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

  1. Melt butter in the microwave or over the stovetop but don’t let it boil.

  2. In a large bowl mix together the semolina flour, all-purpose flour, cinnamon and salt until evenly mixed.Next, pour in the melted butter and mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days.

  3. To make the simple syrup, bring 1 cup of water + 1 cup of sugar to a boil, the reduce to low heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add in several drops of rose water or orange blossom water. Allow it to cool before adding into the ma’amoul.

  4. Remove the dough from the fridge and let it come to room temperature (it will harden in the fridge).

  5. In a small bowl, mix the dry yeast with 1 tbsp water to activate it. Then add dry milk, activated yeast, and simple syrup into the flour mixture and mix well.  Gradually add in the milk until the dough is soft and rolls nicely into a ball. Cover and let it rest for 1 hour on the counter.

  6. In the meantime, make the date filling by combining the chopped dates, softened butter, water, and sesame seeds into a food processor and processed until a smooth texture if made.

  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grab a baking sheet and line with parchment paper. Next, roll the dough and date filling into 24 even balls. With your thumb make a dent in each dough ball and fill with the date filling. Close and roll back into a ball. Press into a maamoul mold or make decorative marks with a fork.

  8. Bake on the middle rack for 10 minutes then move to the top rack for another 8 minutes until top is lightly golden. Let them cool before serving.