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Baking | Scrumptious Date Filled Cookies or Ma’amoul and Soulful Essence of Middle Eastern Cuisine

6 December 2012 31 Comments

Date Filled Cookies or Ma'amoul

My knowledge about Middle Eastern cuisine is very limited, its either a creamy Hummus, spicy Kebabs, handy falafel sandwich or a luscious Baklava. I always think that there is not much scope for a vegetarian to venture into the same. But the past couple of years of food blogging changed my perspective of food and I now enjoy cooking & eating out of my comfort zone.

Sometime in July 2012 when a dear food blogger friend Faith from Edible Mosaic mailed me that she is in the process of publishing her cook book and asked me if I would be interested to review her book. I was excited for her new venture and felt honored to be a part of her world of dreams. A wonderful friend who was the very first AFBLHS guest on Lite Bite and is a great support from the my early days of blogging.

I almost forgot about the same till I got a huge parcel with a beautiful cook book inside in November. What a gorgeous book it is, the moment I took it in my hands I knew I am in love with it. The hard back cover with glossy pages, elegant photos with a good amount of pages dedicated to cooking tips and techniques is an extension of her lovely blog.

The information and basic advice from preserving, using kitchen tools used in Middle Eastern cuisine, making Turkish coffee, dried lime to using grape leaves and Fava beans in day to day cooking is encouraging to any beginner. I thoroughly enjoyed going through every vegetarian recipe in the book and wish I could make every other recipe and post here.

And yes, there is much-much more than just Hummus and Balkava in Middle Eastern cuisine 🙂

Baking | Date Filled Cookies or Ma'amoul, eggless cookies

Selecting a recipe and trying out to include in this post was one of the toughest decisions from the umpteen scrumptious treats from the book. Yes, I wanted to make all of them ASP.

These unusual looking Date Filled Cookies or Ma’amoul grabbed my attention. These cookies are traditionally baked during festival seasons in Middle East.

Baking | Date Filled Cookies or Ma'amoul, eggless cookies

The only deterrent was the Ma’amoul mold used to shape the cookies. My tiny tart molds came to my rescue and I baked these amazing cookies for the first time. Though my cookies don’t look like the pretty Ma’amouls shaped in the traditional molds in the cook book but believe me they taste amazing.

Baking | Date Filled Cookies or Ma'amoul, eggless cookies

Here is the recipe from Faith’s book, check the notes below to find the changes I bake the cookies with whatever ingredients I could manage to get in India;

Date filled Cookies or Ma’amoul

Recipe courtesy of An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky

Yields about 4 dozen cookies
Preparation Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes


Cake Spice Mix:
½ teaspoon ground mahlab (Sour Black Cherry Pits)
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground fennel
¼ teaspoon ground anise
½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
1¼ teaspoons ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Date Filling:
¾ lb (350 g) pitted dates, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons oil
1½ teaspoons Cake Spice Mix

1 cup (225 g) sugar
¾ cup (1 80 ml) water
¼ cup (65 ml) oil
¾ cup (175 g) clarified butter
4 cups (500 g) all-purpose flour, plus up to 4 tablespoons more for kneading
½ teaspoon instant yeast

¼ cup (30 g) powdered sugar (optional, for dusting on top)

Mix together the spices for the Cake Spice Mix. You will only need 1 ½ teaspoons of the spice mix for recipe; store the remaining spice mix in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 6 months.
To make the date filling, grind the dates and oil in a stand mixer fitted with a food grinding attachment (fine grind) or in a heavy-duty food processor. If using a stand mixer, alternate between adding the dates and oil. If you’re using a food processor, before you add any dates, rub oil on the blade and inside of the bowl. Once processed, oil your hands and knead the Cake Spice Mix into the dates.
To make the dough, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a full, rolling boil (occasionally giving the pan a swirl), boil 1 minute, and then turn off the heat. Cool 5 to 10 minutes.
Combine oil and clarified butter in a separate small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the butter is just melted, about 2 minutes; cool slightly.
Put the flour in a large bowl and whisk in the yeast. Use a wooden spoon to gradually incorporate the oil mixture, then gradually incorporate the sugar syrup. Knead the dough until it comes together nicely, adding up to 4 tablespoons more flour as needed (when done, the dough will be soft and should look smooth, shiny, and slightly oily). Cover the dough, put it in the freezer to stiffen slightly, about 5 to 10 minutes, and then knead it again for a couple minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C); line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners.
To shape the cookies with a Ma’amoul mold, measure 1 slightly scant tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball; slightly flatten it with your hands, then press it into the bottom and up the sides of the mold. Measure 1 teaspoon of the date mixture and roll it into a ball; slightly flatten it and gently press it into the dough in the mold. Measure 1 slightly scant teaspoon of dough, roll it into a ball, slightly flatten it, then put it on top of the date mixture in the mold; use your fingers to press the dough on the top into the dough on the sides. To remove the cookie from the mold, hold the mold by the handle and tap the flat rim on a secure surface; the cookie will drop right out.
Arrange the cookies on the baking sheets about ½ to 1 inch (1.25 to 2.5 cm) apart (if you use 2 half-sheet pans, the cookies should all fit on 2 pans; if you use smaller pans you will need to cook them in 2 batches); bake until light golden brown on the bottom, about 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the trays once.

Baking | Date Filled Cookies or Ma'amoul, eggless cookies

Cool completely, and then dust with the powdered sugar. To store the cookies, package them layered between parchment paper in an airtight container.

Baking | Date Filled Cookies or Ma'amoul, eggless cookies

I baked a few more batches after my first trial of these Date filled cookies with walnut, pistachio and honey fillings and each recipe tasted better than the previous one….think am becoming a  huge fan of these lovely goodies.

Baking | Date Filled Cookies or Ma'amoul, eggless cookies

Oh…yes, you guessed it right…these cookies are going to be packed for friends for Christmas and New year gifts.

Baking | Date Filled Cookies or Ma'amoul, eggless cookies

My love for dates made me fill these cookies with a little more extra date filling than recommended in her recipe which made them look like cute little plump and pillowy treats 🙂

Baking | Date Filled Cookies or Ma'amoul, eggless cookies

I have to admit that these Date filled cookies are going to be the next family favorite of our from now on. These are going to be my Christmas treats for the cookie lover friends of mine.

Baking | Date Filled Cookies or Ma'amoul, eggless cookies

The book has quite interesting and authentic Middle Eastern desserts, dips, snacks and drinks with vivid tastes. The simplicity and naturalness of the recipes which she learned from her MIL can be felt throughout the book. Each recipe in the book connects the readers to with her nostalgic family roots.

And trust me this book is a treasure to keep if you are inclined to experimenting new recipes and venture into the scrumptious world of boundless global cuisine.


  1. I made a few changes in the recipe by replacing half of the APF (maida) with whole wheat flour.
  2. In my Spice mix I just added cinnamon powder and nutmeg powder, as I did not want the spices to overpower my date filling.
  3. I did not grind the dates to make the filling, I mashed the soft and dark imported Dates with hand and used in my filling.
  4. I also skipped the butter and used oil instead to make the dough in the recipe.
  5. If you are using tart molds press the sides of the cookies to secure the filling tightly inside.
  6. If you don’t have the Ma’aoul molds or the tart molds you can make these cookies by adding a little of Date filling in a small flattened round disc of the dough and rolling it again.

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  • Reva said:

    Cookies reflecting Middle eastern flavours… looks very cute..
    Tart molds goes a long way…:) Loved the presentation..
    Awesome and this makes a wonderful gift for this season..

  • Rit said:

    Really so delicious…

  • Sayantani said:

    I saw a mooncake mold a few days back and so intrigues to buy it. am going there again as I know what to do with that now. the mamools look incredibly good. such crumbly texture. sure gonna try this soon, real soon.

  • Faith said:

    You are too kind and I can’t thank you enough for your beautiful post! I’m so happy you enjoyed the cookies! They always remind me of festive times spent with my in-laws. I love that you used tart molds to shape the cookies – very ingenuitive! I want to mention that the cookie recipe only calls for use of 1 1/2 teaspoons of the Cake Spice Mix, so you will have extra of the mix; the other spices really don’t overwhelm the flavor of dates since date is the main component, they just enhance the overall flavor.

    Thanks again for your lovely post, my sweet friend.

  • Priya said:

    Omg, those maamoul looks absolutely stunning.
    Priya recently posted..Oats Masala VadasMy Profile

  • dassana@veg recipes of india said:

    these date filled cookies look delicious and i can see the effort you have made to make these cookies.

  • Radhika @ Just Homemade said:

    My experience with middle eastern cuisine has been similar Sanjeeta. Only now I know how many exciting vegetarian options (with or without substitutes) there are!
    These date cookies are quite enticing. Thanks for introducing us to your lovely friend Faith and her cookbook!

  • Charul @ Tadka Masala said:

    Wow, these looks yum and gorgeous too!
    Charul @ Tadka Masala recently posted..Oats & Pumpkin SoupMy Profile

  • Aparna said:

    I love middle eastern food probably because a lot of the flavours are similar to Indian cooking. They use a lot of the same grains, vegetables and spices. And many of the non-vegetarian recipes are easily adapted to vegetarian.
    Aparna recently posted..Speculoos / Speculaas/ Spekulatius For Sinterclaas – Spiced Belgian/ Dutch Windmill Biscuits/ Cookies!My Profile

  • lakshmi said:

    Hi Sanjeeta,

    Awesome cookies. My favourite dish is Baklava.


  • bellini said:

    My favourite middle eastern dishes will always be falafel and tabboulleh.

  • Munira Moosa said:

    OMG, these cookies are to die for and that too with my very hot favorite……DATES. Just love it, will have to try it soon. Thanks ofr the post and the introduction to all of this and ofcourse the gorgeous looking cookbook. Good Luck!!!!!!!

  • Krithi said:

    Perfect done Sanjeeta!! So professional!!

  • Lata Raja said:

    I can see how thoroughly enjoyable these cookies would be! My Middle Eastern ideas are very limited and very recently I am experimenting some wonderful dishes.

  • Veena said:

    As for now my favorite is falafel but i would like to explore some breads.

  • Jackie Hanquet Ashley said:

    I love Baba Ganoush!

  • Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen said:

    I love all the wonderful flavors and spices in maamoul cookies!
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen recently posted..Dukkah Crusted Baked Brie and the Flavors of 2013My Profile

  • Sneha said:

    Just hit the ‘Like’ button on Lite Bite & Faith’s Kitchen on FB. So hard to choose one favorite Middle Eastern dish, the one that comes to mind is Sambusac.

  • jodye @ chocolate and chou fleur said:

    These cookies look wonderful. I love dates, so anything that’s date-filled is right up my alley. They seem like a great holiday cookie – I’ll have to add them to my list!

  • chinmayie @ love food eat said:

    These cookies look so lovely! They are so plump and pretty. Faith’s book looks very interesting.
    chinmayie @ love food eat recently posted..Coconut Sugar Cake with A Caramel Sauce (Refined Sugar Free, Vegan, Whole Wheat & Soy Free)My Profile

  • Jayashree said:

    These cookies look absolutely delightful.
    Jayashree recently posted..Begun chirer pulao – a side dish using brinjal and pohaMy Profile

  • EA-The Spicy RD said:

    Lovely cookies and I’d love to try the other recipes in Faith’s bequtiful cookbook. I do love kebabs and Middle Eastern chickpeas, and our friends who own a Persian restaurant make a delicious walnut pomegranate dip, but other than that, I have very little knowledge of Middle Eastern food~would love to learn more! I hope you and your family are well Santeeja 🙂
    EA-The Spicy RD recently posted..Pear Dutch Baby {Gluten-Free} and A Very Delicious Giveaway!My Profile

  • mjskit said:

    You had me at the Cake Spice! What a wonderful spice mix to go with dates! At first I was wondering what the final texture of the cookie mix would be but your last beautiful picture answered that question for me. A crumbly, sweet tasty cookie stuffed with a burst of spicy dates. I’d like to place an order for two dozen, please. 🙂

  • Gayathri said:

    I just hit the like button Faith’s Kitchen FB. I already like Lite Bites. My favourite middle eastern is Moutabel with Lebanese bread.

  • sahar shabbir said:

    my favorite middle eastern dish is sheesh taouk served with lebanese tabouleh salad. Yum…

  • MaryMoh said:

    I must say that I have little knowledge of Middle Eastern food until I cooked the saffron rice for Faith’s cookbook. It was so easy and delicious. We had it with chicken curry. It was a lovely combination. Your date cookies is now the second Middle Eastern recipe that I know 😀 They look really delicious. Would be wonderful with a cup of hot tea….mmmm. Now I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will win the cookbook so that I can cook more Middle Eastern food. Love all the step by step pictures.

  • Jayasri said:

    I love middle eastern cuisine, as it is more similar to Indian cuisine because of the spices used is similar. My family enjoy and fortunately I do get a lot of ingredients here, I had seen this recipe somewhere in a book can’t remember which one, and I wrote in my little book, I had completely forgotten about it, I don’t know if the recipe is similar I have to check it out.., I got interested in this recipe because of the dates, I love dates so much.., your clicks are so tempting.., I really love to try this out.., Thanks for introducing your friend and an interesting book too…

  • Jen @ Savory Simple said:

    I made these exact cookies today from Faith’s book! I don’t have the mold either and I can’t believe I didn’t think to use my tart molds. Yours look beautiful!

  • Nami | Just One Cookbook said:

    How gorgeous! I’m still new to Middle Eastern cuisine and it’s been interesting to see Faith’s work. Thank you for sharing these delicious date cookies!
    Nami | Just One Cookbook recently posted..Braised Pork Belly (Kakuni) 角煮My Profile

  • Nancy/SpicieFoodie said:

    Faith’s book is gorgeous! I’ve learned so much from it and the recipes are all great. Your cookies turned out beautiful! Love the way you improvised with the shaping. I’m going to try it, thanks:)
    Nancy/SpicieFoodie recently posted..Cooking Mashed Potatoes by Feel and The Yummy Pics CommunityMy Profile

  • Terra said:

    I always look at those little molds, and think they are so adorable! What a fun idea for a cookie, and they look delicious! Hugs, Terra
    Terra recently posted..Chocolate Peanut Butter Quinoa Cookies – Part 2….{AND I Met Rachael Ray!!!}My Profile

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