Updated: Feb 13
These cookies are inspired by Ma'amoul - a Middle Eastern cookie stuffed with date paste or chopped walnuts or pistachios and dusted with powdered sugar. The traditional Ma'amoul is pinched after being shaped into a ball or pressed into a special mold for a pretty design, a very time-consuming process that required a lot of patience. We, instead, make an everyday easy-to-make cookie by using similar buttery crispy dough with dates-based filling, rolled into a log, and sliced into small pieces.
A combination of both butter and vegetable oil gives the cookies a tender, melt-in-the-mouth texture. It's not an overly sweet cookie, no sugar is added to the dough, and the tahini in the filling balances the sweetness of the dates. Be generous and spread a thick layer of filling on the dough to make it truly shine in every single bite.
Makes 40 cookies
3.5 cups (500 gr) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons (6 gr) baking powder
200 gr butter, soften
1/4 cup (50 gr) canola, or other neutral oil
1/2 cup (120 gr) water, at room temperature
290 gr date paste (available in Middle Eastern grocery stores)
1/2 cup (120 gr) tahini Paste
1 1/2 (4 gr) teaspoon ground cinnamon, or sweettahini's sweet dukkah
1/4 cup of water, more if needed
Combine all ingredients in a mixer bowl with the dough hook attachment. Mix just until large and moist lumps of dough have formed (do not overmix, it will result in a very tough chewy cookie), then stop the mixer and bring it all together with your hands.
Remove the dough from the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour or overnight.
Prepare the filling: mix all ingredients in a glass bowl, and add a bit of water to break the date paste apart, you can also heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds pulses if the paste is too tough. Repeat until the mixture is soft and spreadable, but not too runny.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F and line 2 baking pans with baking paper.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces, roll each piece into a 12″x8″ rectangle, and spread a thin layer of the filling, leaving a 1" surface with no filling at the far end.
Roll the dough starting from the end closer to you. Once you have rolled the dough, place it in the baking pan seam side down. Use a sharp knife to make deep 1″ wide cuts along with the entire roll. No need to separate the cookies, leave them as is on the sheet. Repeat the same with the rest of the dough parts.
Bake just until the bottom of the cookies is lightly golden brown (check after about 15 mins, then rotate the pans and bake for extra 10 mins or so ), the top of the cookies should be pale, and not browned at all.
Remove from the oven and cool completely, then separate the cookies and dust with confection sugar.
Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, it also freezes well.
If you have an extra filling left, freeze it for next time or use it as a spread on toast or blend it into plain yogurt.
If you somehow ended up not having enough filling for all 4 dough parts, improvise with any other spread you have at home: fruit jam, or tahini mixed with an equal amount of honey (add some chopped nuts or almond flour, so the filling won't be too runny), peanut butter or commercial chocolate spread will work too.