Ma’amoul shortbread cookies

Prep 0 h : 45 m
Cook 0 h : 15 m


  • 140g semolina, plus extra for dusting

    35g farina (potato starch)

    2 tbsp caster sugar

    1⁄4 tsp ground mahlab or ground almonds

    75g butter, melted

    1 tbsp orange blossom water

    Icing sugar, to dust

    Pistachio filling

    35g pistachios

    1 tbsp caster sugar

    1⁄4 tsp orange blossom water

    Walnut filling

    35g walnut pieces 15g/1⁄2oz caster sugar

    1⁄4 tsp orange blossom water

    Date & walnut filling

    40g pitted dates

    4–5 walnuts

    A pinch of ground nutmeg

    5g butter, melted


  • Put semolina, farina, sugar and mahlab in

    a mixing bowl. Add melted butter and orange blossom water. Beat well. Knead the mixture for 3–4 mins, working it into a pliable dough.

    Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 2 hours.

    For the pistachio filling, blend pistachios, sugar and orange blossom water for 1 minute to form a coarse paste, then transfer to a bowl and wash the food processor.

    For the walnut filling, blend together walnuts, sugar and orange blossom water for a minute to form a coarse paste. Transfer to a bowl and wash the food processor.

    For the date and walnut filling, blend together dates, walnuts and nutmeg. Melt the butter and add to the mixture, then whizz for 1 minute to form a coarse paste.

    Remove the dough from the fridge and leave to rest at room temperature for about 20 mins before kneading it for 2 mins.

    Divide the dough into three equal portions and roll out each portion into a thin long log. Pinch off small lumps of the dough (about 2.5cm pieces), and flatten them with your palms, making sure it’s thin but not so thin that it will tear.

    Dust the ma’amoul mould cavities with semolina and then invert and tap gently to remove the excess.

    Gently flatten the dough into each mould cavity and add the relevant filling. Bring the edges together and seal well, then flatten the surface to create a level base for the cookie to sit on, pinching off any excess dough. Gently release by tapping the mould on the work surface.

    Repeat until you have about eight pistachio cookies, eight walnut cookies and ten date and walnut cookies (which are smaller).

    Preheat the oven to 200C. Dust a baking sheet with semolina and place the cookies on it.

    Bake for 10–15 mins for the larger cookies and about 8–10 mins for the smaller ones until the sides are slightly golden in colour. Leave to cool, then dust with icing sugar.

    Note: I like to add the filling using a mould because I find it yields more consistent results. Alternatively, flatten the dough in the palm of your hand while making a hole in it, then stuff it with the filling, seal the edges, roll it into a ball, then finally press it into a mould.