The next major holiday on the Jewish calendar is Purim. While we will crank out several variants of the traditional hamantachen (I know Amiee is working on her poppy seed filling) I wanted to try something new. In asking around I was told by my spouse that her co-worker who is Israeli of Egyptian descent makes Ma’amoul for Purim. Intrigued since I had never even heard of them I quickly consulted Claudia Roden who supplied a recipe that I then modified. Roden does not mention a holiday connection, but says her mother kept a box of these around all the time. But, since every good tradition has to start somewhere- I am going say this is indeed a Purim treat, sweet like the deliverance of the Jews from Haman.
Some notes on production. The dough will look loose and crumbly at first, let it rest to firm up. This is traditionally made with rose-water, which I do not keep on hand but feel free to swap out some of the milk for an equal amount of rose-water. Third, you can make any filling you want, Roden says that pistachios were the most prestigious given their price. Last, Roden says her mother made a design on the top with “dented pincers”. Having no idea what that might look like I did a Google image search and found that many people use a mold to create intricate designs that would make any Christmas cookie baker proud. I decided that I would keep it simple, scoring the tops with a fork in the manner of my own grandmother’s sugar cookies.
(adapted from Claudia Roden)
500 g all purpose flour (about 3.5 cups)
2 sticks (8 oz) soft butter
2 tb sugar
4 tb milk (or 1 tb rose-water, 3 tb milk)
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 chopped dates
2 tb sugar
Cream sugar into butter and then add flour until mixed completely. Add milk, one tablespoon at a time until dough can be balled without falling apart, but is not sticky. Wrap dough in plastic and allow to sit for 20 minutes. Divide dough into walnut sized balls. Take each dough ball and create a cup, fill with nut and date mix and then close up the top. Score the tops with a fork for decoration, or leave plain. Arrange them on a parchment lined sheet pan and bake for about 25 minutes, do not allow to brown. Let cool before moving.