Happy Easter. Joyeuses Pâques. Buona Pasqua.
I love this time of year, I love all the holidays. Easter has a great meaning to us. So to celebrate this holiday, we bake maamoul. An excellent Lebanese sweet. An unbeatable, irresistible dessert for me.
Those bite-sized treats made out of semolina and filled with different mixtures. Either dates paste, pistachios or walnuts. Helping with molding and unmolding is a very amusing thing to do.
Usually when I treat myself with a maamoul, I never stop at one only. I have to eat one of each kind, and that is a small problem since I have to watch my waistline. Trying to resist those maamouls is quite hard for me. Un délice. Usually wooden shaped molds are used for maamouls but we use another tool to design it by hand, the one pictured below.
What I love the most, other than eating those maamouls, is the smell of the house when baking. It is one of the greatest, beautiful cooking smells. It is very hard for me to explain how scrumptious, mouthwatering, agreeable smell it is.
Making maamoul requires some patience and time. It has different steps to follow, prepare the dough and let it rest for overnight, grind the nuts and slightly cook the date paste.
Maamoul (makes almost 60 pieces of each kind)
For the dough
– 1 1/2 kilo coarse semolina
– 1 1/2 cup fine semolina
– 550 g very soft butter
– 1 tsp mahlab
– 1 tsp nutmeg
– 1/2 cup orange blossom water
– 1/2 cup rose water
– 1/2 tsp instant dry-yeast
– 1/2 cup warm water
In a bowl mix together the two semolina, butter, mahlab and nutmeg. Cover with a towel and leave overnight to rest. The next day, you add the other ingredients, the orange blossom water, the rose water, yeast and warm water, mix altogether well and leave aside the time to prepare the other ingredients, about an hour.
For the date paste filling:
– On the stove, put in a skillet 1 kilo date paste with 1 tsp nutmeg and 2 tbsp butter and cook for few minutes on low heat. Let cool. And with your fingers, form small balls, and each one roll it with your hand palms on the counter to form a finger-like paste. Set aside.
For the pistachios and walnuts filling:
-Crush 300 g pistachios in a food processor to fine mixture and add to it 3/4 cup sugar + 1 tbsp rose water + 1 tbsp orange blossom water. Mix altogether.
– Crush 200 g walnuts + 10 pieces almonds in a food processor and add to it 1/2 cup sugar + 1 tbsp orange blossom water + 1 tbsp rose water. Mix altogether. ( Will make less than 60 pieces)
Form small size-ball doughs with your hand palms and then with your finger make a hole in the middle of the dough and place 1 tsp of the pistachios or walnuts mixture or 1 finger-sized dates paste and close it. And either put it in a shape-wooden mold and unmolded by hitting it slightly to the counter or design it with a special maamoul tool, the pictured one.
For the dates maamoul, we do a special form and design. Take the size-ball dough and roll it on the counter to form the same size as the dates paste shape, and place these in the dough and close it to make a rind as pictured. And design it with the tool.
Place the maamouls in a pan and bake in a preheated oven to 180C for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Take out the oven and let it cool. Either when cooled or before serving, you sprinkle the maamouls with some icing sugar.
Enjoy, and watch your line, or not, I say eat as much as you can, the home-made maamouls are unbeatable and irresistable.