Ma'amoul bil Tamer (Lebanese Date Shortbread)

Lebanese Date Shortbread
Lebanese Date Shortbread (Ma'amoul)
These Lebanese shortbread cookies feature a buttery pastry scented with rose and orange blossom waters wrapped around a cinnamon and nutmeg–spiced date filling.

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.

Ma'amoul bil Tamer (Lebanese Date Shortbread)
These Lebanese shortbread cookies feature a buttery pastry scented with rose and orange blossom waters wrapped around a cinnamon and nutmeg-spiced date filling.
Yield: makes 25

For the Crust

  • 3 cups fine semolina
  • 12 cup flour
  • 12 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 12 tsp. kosher salt
  • 13 cup whole milk
  • 2 12 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 12 tbsp. grated nutmeg

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. Make the filling: Purée dates, butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a food processor until smooth. Divide into 25 balls; chill 30 minutes.
  3. 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.