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Friday, April 6, 2012

Ma'amoul (Lebanese Easter Biscuits)



(Makes 130 – 140 biscuits approx)

A couple of us gorgeous girls got together and made these scrumptious Lebanese Easter Biscuits. It was a real community affair, we felt like we were in Lebanon with the smell of rose water and orange blossom and the kitchen table full of ingredients and nuts, a little belly dance and Lebanese music just made it feel so real. To make authentic ma’amoul you will need to purchase a ma’amoul mould available from a Middle Eastern grocer. Some of the ingredients below, eg semolina and mahelpi are also available from a Middle Eastern grocer. You will need to begin this recipe the night before and I’ve specified this in the recipe.

I hope you enjoy reading (and one day attempting) this recipe for Ma’amoul, we certainly enjoyed making them and eating them too !

Ingredients

3 kilo fine semolina
3 kilo coarse (medium) semolina
3 teaspoons ground nutmeg
3 teaspoons mahlepi
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 kilo unsalted butter, softened in microwave
2 coffee cups (Italian size) rose water
2 coffee cups (Italian size) orange blossom water
2 teaspoons dry yeast
5 - 6 cups of lukewarm water (approx)
1 kilo pure icing sugar
“old fashion” greaseproof paper (for wrapping walnut ma’amoul)
Fillings

Date Filling
1 kilo pitted dates
½ cup sugar
200g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Walnut & Pistachio Filling
1 kilo walnuts
250g pistachio
2 cups caster sugar

METHOD

Day 1 (the night before)

1. Semolina Dough: In a very, very large bowl mix both semolina together. Add nutmeg, mahlepi and baking powder. Add butter a little at a time and mix together with your hands, rubbing between both hands and making sure all the semolina is mixed thoroughly with the butter. With your hands pattern a “sign of the cross” over the semolina dough and allow to rest on the bench over night, bowl covered with a damp tea towel.
2. Date Filling: Melt pitted, chopped dates in a medium saucepan with unsalted butter, sugar and cinnamon, mixed until soft. When soft mash together using a potato masher. Pour the date mixture into a slice pan and allow to cool over night in the fridge.
3. Walnut Filling: Crush the walnuts and pistachio and add to the large bowl. Mix together with sugar.

Day 2

1. Preheat oven 180oC. Line baking trays with baking paper.
2. Remove dates from fridge.
3. To the bowl of mixed nuts add sugar, rose water and orange blossom water.
4. Using a large mug dissolve yeast in ¾ cups of the lukewarm water, stirring with a spoon. Pour the yeast mixture over semolina mixture, across the “sign of the cross” in the bowl. Mix all together ensuring the whole mixture is coated with the yeast mixture. Continue to add more lukewarm water to the semolina mixture until a dough consistency is formed and a ball of dough can be formed (very large walnut size), holding it’s shape and without falling apart. You can also check consistency by flattening the ball of dough in the palm of your hands checking that it holds its shape readying for filling.
5. Now you are ready to fill the ma’amoul. You will grab a large walnut size piece of dough and flatten slightly between both hands. Grab either a teaspoon of date mixture or a teaspoon of nut mixture and place in the middle of the flattened dough. Close the dough together and bring together as a ball again. Place the filled ball into the ma’amoul mould and flatten to encase the mould, ensuring the pattern underneath the mould will be obtained onto the dough from underneath. Turn the mould over onto an old chopping board and bang hard on the board to release the filled dough.
6. Place the ma’amoul onto the baking sheet about ½ cm apart and baking in preheated oven at 180oC for about 20 minutes or until the underside is lightly browned.
7. Once cooked remove the ma’amoul and place on a wire rack to cool.
8. Coating the walnut filled ma’amoul with icing sugar. Traditionally this is only done to the walnut/pistachio ma’amoul. Place icing sugar in a large tray and individually coat each walnut filled ma’amoul with icing sugar until fully coated.
9. Wrapping the walnut filled ma’amoul with greaseproof paper. Take a 22cm x 24cm piece of greaseproof paper and lay flat on the bench. Turn the paper so that you can see it as a diamond shape. Take a ma’amoul and place in the middle of the diamond. Take the top point of the diamond and cover the ma’amoul. Looking at the covered ma’amoul, take the top right part of the greaseproof paper and start twisting the paper all around the edge of the ma’amoul until the whole ma’amoul is covered, tucking the end of the greaseproof paper under the ma’amoul.
10. Store the ma’amoul in an airtight container to keep fresh.

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