Updated: Nov 20
One of the unimaginable stories of heroism from October 7, the day of the horrific attack on Israel by Hamas, is Rachel Adri's story. This brave and wise woman saved herself and her husband from five terrorists with admirable and inspiring resourcefulness.
On the morning of October 7, Rachel, 65, discovered five masked terrorists in her house, and weapons were held to her and her husband's head for 17 hours.
She spoke to the hearts of the terrorists, asked for their names, offered them coffee and cookies, and bided her time until her and her husband's rescue, fearing that they would start to get hungry and then get nervous. The Israeli media brought her story from every possible angle and she shared that the cookies that she fed the terrorists were Ma'amouls, a traditional Middle Eastern and North African stuffed dates cookies.
I'm bringing here this Ma'amoul recipe in Rachel's honor.
Makes 25 large cookies.
1 cup (280 gr) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed for the dough and to coat the mold.
1 ¼ teaspoon (5 gr) baking powder
125 gr (3/4 cup) semolina
2 Tablespoons (25 gr) sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (65 gr) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon orange blossom water or rose water
1/3 cup (80 gr) water
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened at room temp.
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
300 gr date paste, or 300 gr (about 1 ½ cup) pitted dates.
2 Tablespoons (24 gr) oil or tahini paste
2 Tablespoons (30 gr) water
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamom
¾ cup (80 gr) walnuts or chopped nuts such as pistachio or pecan.
Make the dough: in a large bowl, mix all dough ingredients until a smooth, very soft dough comes together. Remove and cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least ½ an hour.
Make the filling: if using store-bought date paste, combine all filling ingredients in a small bowl. If using whole dates, place pitted dates in a small saucepan. Add water, oil (or tahini), and spices. Stir over medium heat until the mixture resembles a jam. Set aside to cool.
Scoop about 1/2 tablespoon of the date mixture and shape it into a ball. Repeat, having 25 balls.
Remove the dough from the fridge and divide it into 25 pieces, shaping each into a ball. Press each ball into a flat disc, about 3” in diameter.
Place each date roll on the middle of the dough disc and fold the edges of the dough around the date ball. Pinch the seam together and roll again to ensure the date ball is nicely enclosed. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Press the ball into a lightly floured Ma’amoul mold to create the pattern, then release and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, at least 1” apart. If not using a mold, use a fork to create the pattern.
Bake in preheated oven to 325°F for about 10 minutes, until the bottom of the cookies is browned. The top of the cookies should be pale.
Remove from the oven and cool completely before dusting with confectioners’ sugar.
Store cool and dry in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks; freeze for longer storage.