1 kilogram fine semolina
300 grams butter, softened or ghee melted
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon mastic, ground with 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground mahlab
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup orange blossom water
1/2 cup of rosewater
Making the crust
In a bowl place the semolina and add the butter/ghee and oil to it.
Rub the butter and oil into the semolina until they are completely absorbed by it. The semolina will resemble wet sand.
The next day add the flour, mastic, mahlab, vanilla and baking powder.
Dissolve the yeast in the water with the sugar and wait for it to foam and bubble.
Add it to the semolina mix and add the orange blossom and rosewater.
Mix gently, you take a lump of dough and then crumble it between your fingers and then repeat.
At first you will get clumps then the dough will come together. You are not aiming for a smooth dough ball. Just for a dough that comes together and is homogenous.
You can use ground dates that are sold as a paste .
500 gm chopped walnuts and 1/2 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons orange blossom water, 2 tablespoons butter or ghee and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.
500 gm coarsely ground pistachios and 1/2 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons orange blossom water and 2 tablespoons melted butter or ghee.
Orange blossom water, cardamom and cinnamon are added for flavor and are entirely optional.
Taste the filling and adjust the sweetness and spices according to your taste, just remember that there is not sugar in the crust so the filling has to be on the extra sweet side.
Making the maamoul
Take a walnut size piece of dough.
Keep the rest of the dough covered or it will dry out.
If you find that the dough is a little dry or it cracks when you try to form it, add 1/4 cup of vegetable oil and knead it lightly into the dough.
If making date maamoul:
Form the kneaded date puree into small balls about half the size of the dough balls.
Flatten the dough ball , place the date ball inside and seal the dough around the stuffing making sure the filling is completely enclosed by the dough and shape it into a ball.
Shaping the Maamoul using the molds
Place the dough in a mold, press firmly but do not over do it or the maamoul will stick to the mold.
Place a kitchen towel on a cutting board or your kitchen table.
Then invert the mold and tap the end of the mold on the kitchen towel and the formed cookie will fall out.
If making pistachio or walnut maamoul
Form a small cup of dough using your thumb to make a hole and pinching the sides thin. Stuff with desired filling so it comes 3/4 of the way up and close carefully, rolling smooth.
Bake maamoul on the middle rack of a preheated oven (230 C) till the edges are golden brown (5-12 minutes) and then place them under the broiler till the tops are golden brown (2-5 minutes).
Take the cookies out of the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet for 10- 15 minutes then move them to a cooling rack because they are prone to crumble if you move them when they are still hot.
When they cool down, sprinkle with icing sugar.