Would anybody like a freshly baked plate of vegan maamouls?
This Middle Eastern delicacy held a special place at our Easter table. I was planning to share the recipe a few months ago. Unfortunately, baking an all-vegan maamoul proved more challenging than I expected. My first trial was a crumbling mess.
Nevertheless, I pulled up my sleeves and vouched to bake a beautiful batch for Eid.
That way, at least some of you could savor this sweet treat on a special occasion.
The most important tip, rather the most important ingredient, in this recipe is (drumrolls)…love! That’s where the heavenly taste comes from. One of the best bakers I know, i.e., my amazing mom, made the best maamouls out there, all from scratch.
But whenever I tried getting the recipe from her, it was always different. She didn’t follow any one strict recipe. She did most of it by her touch and feel. She would touch the dough and know it was the perfect consistency. She would feel the maamoul and could tell it had the right texture. It was all experience and love.
While that’s truly inspiring, it didn’t really help me much, to be honest. That’s why I bring you this recipe that can help you get close to attaining those perfect cookies.
There are three things you need to make maamoul—patience, perseverance, and many hours of practice.
After some more trial and error, I whipped up the perfect plate of these baked goodies.
What’s inside my healthy cookies?
As you will see, I swapped butter and ghee for some low-calorie, plant-powered substitutes.
My mouthwatering maamouls feature delicate semolina covering that’s stuffed to the brim with dates and a hint of fragrant orange blossom water. I used rose molds to add an artistic touch to my platter. Each bite of this delightful cookie is an ode to our diverse culture, my mother’s cooking, and the love of food I share with each of you.
A Little Background on Maamouls
For those of you who might not be very familiar with Middle Eastern delicacies, firstly, you’re seriously missing out. Check out my blog for some amazing traditional recipes. Secondly, let me give you a quick background on Maamouls, which are a classic dessert as well as a snack in our culture.
So, what are maamouls, and what’s the big deal?
Maamouls are an ancient Arabic dessert that consists of a pastry or shortbread cookie filled with a sweet treat. This can be a paste made of dates or different nuts such as pistachios or walnuts. These fillings also have a strong fragrance of rosewater or orange blossom.
The cookies are molded into various shapes such as round ball, flat disc, a crescent, or a simple dome, either using a specific mold or sometimes even by hand.
These desserts are a traditional holiday staple in the Levantine region of Middle East Asia. Usually, people reward themselves with these delicious cookies after Lent on Easter or on Eid after fasting the whole month of Ramadan.
If you go to anyone’s house on these occasions, it is pretty much guaranteed that you will find a plate of these waiting for you. In some houses, it is prepared a few days before Eid, specifically to be served to guests with special coffee and chocolate on the festive occasion.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, maamouls hold a big place in Middle Eastern tradition, and they do so for a reason. The cookies are a sweet, crumbly mess in your mouth that will have you reaching for more and more.
What to Expect?
- Quick and healthy recipe
How to Make the Perfect Vegan Mammouls?
Maamouls are a Middle Eastern classic that looks like stuffed shortbread cookies with flavorful fillings. These traditional delicacies always make an appearance on special occasions. Their only vice was their affinity to calories and fat-laden ingredients.
Nevertheless, I was determined to create a healthier, lighter, and vegan-friendly rendition with no guilty strings attached. After weeks of mistrials and lots of advice from my mother, I finally whipped up a batch that delivered the flavour without compromising my dietary choices.
Here are some secret baking hacks that led to my success:
1.Practice, Precision & Passion
Three things keep me going when I come face to face with a challenging recipe. First, I don’t hesitate to conduct test runs to adjust my recipe until I’m satisfied. Second, I measure my ingredients and keep an eye on the oven to achieve accurate results.
Lastly, my passion for baking keeps the momentum going. It allows me to take risks and have fun despite the roadblocks.
2.The Superpower of Semolina
Add a combination of AP flour and semolina to strike the ideal balance for your cookie dough. Use my recommended ratio to ensure that your cookies retain their slightly soft, crumbly exterior without losing their crispiness.
3.Do (ugh) It Right!
Avoid over kneading the dough and ensure that it reaches a firm, sturdy consistency. High temperatures and sweltering summer days can lead to a soft and runny dough. Consequently, the cookies can look distorted and become unmanageable.
You can turn things around by letting your dough chill in the freezer for 10-15 minutes (or till it becomes more manageable).
4.Breaking the Stereotypical Mould
Shaping maamouls can be an exhausting and tedious process. Adding the details can often take hours for first timers. The process requires bakers to fill circular doughy layers and then seal them by placing one layer over the other. Use your thumbs to ensure that the filling is secure before you seal the cookies. Use pointy utensils such as a fork/tong to create patterns on the edges.
If you don’t have the time or artistic flair to replicate traditional designs, you can use a rose mould like mine. You can opt for this shortcut to reduce prep time and take your presentation skills to the next level.
Apart from this, keep an eye on the temperature. Broiling your cookies can add a golden-brown hue to these gorgeous cookies. Remember to stand nearby and keep an eye on the oven to prevent your vegan maamoul cookies from burning/over baking.
How to Keep Your Baked Goods Fresh for Days?
Whether you’re making your maamouls ahead of time or have leftovers, I have storage tips that can work for you. The key lies in considering environmental factors before you stock these traditional treats.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Always store your cookies in an airtight container (like a Mason jar or sealed box).
- Maamouls can stay fresh for 3-7 days if you store them in an airtight container outside. It only works under favorable temperatures.
- You can freeze leftovers for at least two months.
Remember to thaw your frozen cookies at room temperature before serving them at a later date.
Oops I Messed It Again! Decoding Common Maamoul Making Mistakes
Over the years, I have learned how to become a more intuitive and self-aware cook. If my baked goods don’t look right, I try to figure out what happened. I do this through extensive research and constant trial and error.
In this case, the taste and texture of your maamouls can give you a clue of what went wrong during your baking process.
- Are your maamouls too dry?
Over kneading the cookie dough, adding insufficient fat content or over baking can lead to crunchy and dry maamouls. You can fix this situation by being more precise in your technique and keeping an eye out for discrepancies.
Alternatively, you might have kept your baked goods out in the open. In turn, your cookies might have dried out due to exposure to air and other environmental elements. I recommend storing your maamouls in an airtight container to prevent this problem.
- Do your maamoul crack easily?
It looks like someone added too much filling inside. Besides this, your cookies might need more oil to secure the covering. These mistakes are salvageable. All you need to do is roll a slightly thicker covering and increase the oil quantity in the next batch.
- Are your baked cookies too crumbly?
Maamouls have a signature melt-in-your-mouth, crumbly texture.
However, they should not fall apart as soon as you pick them. Odds are that you added too much oil/fat content this time around. I recommend sticking to precise measurements and altering the oil quantity to create a balanced dessert.
Now that we have discussed the nitty-gritty details of baking techniques, we can move onto the good stuff.
Let’s talk about flavours.
Tasty Tips for an Authentic Vegan Rose Maamoul
Plant-powered desserts can taste bland and boring if you don’t think outside the box. That’s why I encourage bakers to indulge in their creative side by improvising my recipes. It’s all about creating harmony with fresh ingredients and a handful of spices, fruits, and nuts for seasoning.
Here are a few inventive (and sometimes classic) choices that make your cookies stand out:
- Not a fan of dates?
No worries. Feel free to switch things up by playing with flavours for the fillings. Popular choices include dates, figs, and fruity jams.
(Sugar-free jams can work well if you’re keeping your diet in check)
- Do you like crunchy fillings?
Sprinkle some nuts into your mixture. Sweetened almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are an ideal combo for maamoul filling. Dried fruits manage to enhance the flavour profile and nutritional value of your desserts.
- Flower Power
Are you planning to ditch orange blossom water? Stop right there! Orange blossom might be new to you, but it’s a staple for this Middle Eastern recipe. I recommend adding a few drops of orange blossom and rose water to achieve an authentic taste.
- Are you looking for something extra?
Spice things up with mahlab. This Middle Eastern ingredient features a fruity-floral flavor with subtle notes of almonds and vanilla. Use it to add more vibrancy to your cookies.
Besides this, you can swap oil with ghee if you’re ready to indulge in a crumblier cookie rendition.
Maamouls are the perfect opportunity to call your loved ones over and throw a cookie-baking party. Tag @joyfulhomecooking and include #joyfulhomecooking in your pictures so that I can see what you’ve been up to and how your cookies have turned out.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes + 30 minutes chilling time
- Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
- Yield: 18 1x
- 1 1/3 cup fine semolina
- 1/3 cup plain flour
- 1/4 cup caster sugar
- ½ cup coconut oil*
- 1 tbsp orange blossom water
- ¼ cup almond milk
- 250g medjool Dates
- 20 ml orange blossom water
- Combine the fine semolina, flour, sugar, and solid coconut oil in a mixing bowl using the paddle attachment and mix till it looks like wet breadcrumbs. For a crumblier texture, you can even use your hands to mix. The rubbing action from the hands means that there is less development of the flour’s gluten components, which leads to a super crumbly cookie at the end.
- Add orange blossom water to milk, and then add both to the dry mixture. Mix them till it forms a dough, and then wrap it and chill it for half an hour. The dough should feel like a fresh block of Play-Doh.
- Cut the dough into 25g pieces and press each piece into discs in your hands. Add a little bit of the filling and wrap the dough around it.
- Press the dough into your preferred mold to give it that shape.
- Place the cookies on a baking sheet and bake in a 180 degrees preheated oven for 12-14 minutes, just until the bottom edge of the cookies starts turning golden. Be careful not to over bake.
- If you want them golden on top as well, broil them for not more than two to five minutes.
- Take the maamouls out and let them cool on the baking sheet only for about ten to fifteen minutes. Then move them to a cooling rack. If you move them too much while they are still hot, they can crumble and break.
- Take out the pits from the dates and blend them in a food processor along with the orange blossom water to turn it into a paste.
- Roll them into balls for the filling.
*The fat content determines the final texture and crumbliness of the cookie. You need about 450-500 grams of fat content for each kilogram of maamoul. Less fat means a crunchier cookie. More fat means a crumblier cookie.
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Once you get the hang of these amazing cookies, you will want to bake these all day, every day!