These Lebanese shortbread cookies feature a buttery pastry scented with rose and orange blossom waters wrapped around a cinnamon and nutmeg–spiced date filling. Though they’re easy to shape by hand, it’s worth seeking out a traditional ma’amoul mold to make them. The beautiful long-handled tools, known as taabehs, are intricately carved with designs that correspond to their fillings, with distinct patterns for ma’amoul filled with dates, pistachio, or walnut.
For the Crust
- 3 cups fine semolina
- 1⁄2 cup flour
- 12 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 3 tbsp. sugar
- 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1⁄3 cup whole milk
- 2 1⁄2 tbsp. rose water
- 2 tsp. orange blossom water
For the Filling
- 5 cups pitted dates
- 10 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
- 2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp. grated nutmeg
- Make the crust: Pulse semolina, flour, butter, sugar, and salt in a food processor into pea-size crumbles. Add milk and rose and orange blossom waters; pulse until dough forms. Flatten dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap; chill 2 hours.
- Make the filling: Purée dates, butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a food processor until smooth. Divide into 25 balls; chill 30 minutes.
- Heat oven to 400°. Divide dough into 25 balls. Working with 1 ball at a time, press finger into dough, creating a pocket. Place 1 ball of filling into pocket; pinch sides to encase filling and roll into a ball. Press balls into ma’amoul mold, or flatten slightly using your palm; transfer to a baking sheet. Bake until golden, 20–25 minutes; let cool before serving.