top of page

patterned semolina cookies with three fillings


Photo Credit: Alexandra Grablewski

Maamoul are a signature holiday cookie that are as fun to make as they are to eat! Though these shortbread pastries are available year-round in Lebanon, they are prepared in extra-large quantities during holidays like Easter, Christmas, and Good Friday. These melt-in- your-mouth butter cookies are shaped with a signature Julie Taboulie Taabeh, or Maamoul mold (see page 281), and stuffed with walnut, date, or pistachio filling, and then dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Although they are far more beautiful using the mold, they can also be shaped and decorated using the tines of a fork. I have included my three fillings, and I usually make all three, but feel free to make all of them or just one or two!




1 teaspoon yeast (dry or solid)
1 teaspoon unbleached, all-purpose flour
3 cups fine semolina grain
1⁄3 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon finely ground mahlab (St. Lucie Cherry Spice)
11⁄2 cups Samneh (Clarified Butter), warm
1 tablespoon orange blossom water, at room temperature
1 tablespoon rose water, at room temperature


1 cup raw, unsalted walnuts
1⁄3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon Samneh (Clarified Butter), warm
1 tablespoon orange blossom water

1 cup fresh whole dates, pitted
1 teaspoon finely ground mahlab (St. Lucie Cherry Spice)
2 tablespoons Samneh (Clarified Butter), warm

1 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios
1⁄3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon Samneh (Clarified Butter), warm
1 tablespoon rose water
Granulated sugar (for date-filled cookies), or confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling on walnut and pistachio-filled cookies.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

First, make the fillings: To make the walnut filling, combine the walnuts and sugar in a food processor and grind to a coarse meal consistency. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and stir in the clarified butter and orange blossom water. Set aside.

To make the date filling: Combine the dates, mahlab, and clarified butter in a food professor and grind until a smooth soft paste forms. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and set aside.

To make the pistachio filling: Grind the pistachios and sugar in a food processor into a coarse meal. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and stir in the clarified butter and rose water. Set aside.

Make the cookie dough: In a small bowl, combine the yeast, our, and 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1/3 cup of lukewarm water. Stir together, then set aside and allow the yeast to proof for 5 to 7 minutes until the mixture doubles in size, and becomes foamy with small bubbles.

While the yeast is proofing, combine the semolina, sugar, and mahlab in a large mixing bowl and mix together with your hands, breaking up any small clumps of semolina or sugar. Create a well in the center of the bowl and pour the warm clarified butter into the well. Thoroughly mix together so that the semolina grains are completely coated with butter. Create another well and
pour in the yeast mixture along with the orange blossom and rose waters and thoroughly mix together until a soft and pliable dough forms that is moist to the touch.

Form the maamoul: Scoop about 21⁄2 tablespoons of the dough into the palms of your hands, and mold it into a small round bowl. Poke the middle of the dough ball with your index finger and rotate the dough ball around in your other hand as you deepen and widen the hole you have created. Make sure not to break through the bottom of the ball or tear the side walls.

Take 1 tablespoon of walnut, date, or pistachio filling and place in the small hole, making sure not to overstuff the dough. Enclose the filling by gently folding the surrounding dough over the top of the hole, and pinch the edges together on top. Smooth out a seam into the dough with your fingertips so that it is entirely enclosed. Now, place the dough, seam side up, into the maamoul mold, and gently press the ball into the mold to imprint the design onto the dough. Make sure the dough does not hang over the edge of the mold, as this will create a lip we do not want. Make sure the dough does not stick to the mold, and strike the top edge of the mold onto a hard surface to release the dough.

Place the cookies on two 12 x 17-inch ungreased baking sheets, leaving space between each pastry.

Bake the maamoul in the center of the preheated oven for 12 minutes until they are very light golden yellow. Let them cool on the baking sheet for at least 15 minutes. If you wish to sprinkle granulated sugar on the walnut or date maamoul, they must be slightly warm. The other pistachio maamoul can be sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar when they have completely cooled.

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

TABOULIE TIP! Using the sharp tip of a paring knife, periodically scrape any excess dough from the pattern mold to prevent dough from sticking to the mold.


Copyright 2017 by Julie Ann Sageer in Julie Taboulie’s Lebanese Kitchen, St. Martin’s Press/St. Martin’s Griffin. All Rights Reserved.

From the cookbook

Keep In Touch!



Sharing is Caring


Kibbeh Batata
potato, bulgur, and herb spread

Small Plate

Kibbet Raheb

lemony lentil and swiss chard soup with bulgur wheat bites



chickpea, potato, and bulgur patties


bottom of page