For couple of alphabets we decided to go easy and gave the option of doing a city from any country. The condition was if we do a city, that country couldn't be used again. However I settled on West Bank and landed in a site that had some soups and some sweets. Though I was tempted to do the soup, I wanted to stick to the theme that I ended up unconsciously doing this edition, desserts or sweets.
Maamoul are popular in Levantine cuisine and in the Gulf countries. These cookies are mostly stuffed with dates and made as balls or of domed or flattened cookies with different moulds. The recipe I landed with was with yeast and somehow I never really checked for other recipes.
This was last dish that I made and was feeling so elated that I finally completed my series. As it was more like a cooking marathon that Sunday, I kneaded the dough in the morning and thought I would be able to make it after the required resting period. However things just went on and on. I came back to this recipe after nearly 4 hours.
After working on the dough I realised I should have used baking powder. Only as I was making the dates puree, Konda told me that she doesn't like dates. Somehow I don’t remember I have never tried it on them and realized she has tasted it parents place. The dates are from Dubai, from a family friend who visited us recently. She got us two big boxes of these special dates and I was making sure I had some of it saved to make something with dates. So this recipe was decided thing, the moment I saw that this has dates stuffing.
The rings that are stuffed are quite addictive if you like dates. However the anise seeds that I added was very strong. This was the first time I am using anise seeds. I know there is always a confusion of what Anise seeds are. Anise Seeds are not Caraway Seeds, though these look like similar to Fennel seeds or more like Cumin Seeds. The taste of the spice was very strong and I came to know that this is also called as Cake Seeds. I got this in a nuts speciality store, where it is sold as Cake Seeds. The famous Anise cake is made with these.
Coming back to the dish for the day, these baked cookies stuffed with dates are surely very delicious if you are fond of dates. I will go little easy on the spices, to feel the dates.
Country - W for West Bank
Category - Sweets
Preparation Time - 15 mins
Resting Time - 1 hr
Baking Time - 15 - 20 @ 180 C
For the Dough:
All purpose flour - 1 cup
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Sesame seeds 1 tsp
Anise seeds - 1 tsp
Anise, powdered a pinch
Black seeds 1/4 tsp
Instant yeast - 1 tsp
For the Date Filling:
Date paste - 1/2 cup (made from 10 whole seedless dates)
Anise seeds - 1/4 tsp
Cardamom a pinch
How to make Maamoul
For the dough:
In a mixing bowl, take the flour, olive oil, sesame seeds, anise, black seeds and instant yeast abd rub together. Pat down everything and refrigerate for 10 - 15 mins.
Next slowly add water and knead to a soft dough. Cover the bowl with and leave it for about an hour to rest.
For the stuffing:
In a mixer jar, combine dates, anise, and cardamom, pulse couple of times. Your homemade dates paste is ready.
For making Maamoul
Knead the dough again and pinch into equal balls. Dust and roll the balls to a long shape, place the dates puree that is also rolled as a rope. Fold on the stuffing and roll again. Roll tighly on the board, the stuffing will be well covered.
Cut itno 2 cm pieces, bring both ends and close together. making a ring.
Once you are done with all the rings, place them in a baking tray and bake for 15 - 20 mins in a pre heated oven at 185 C. First bake for 15 mins, then turn over the cookies and bake for another couple of mins.
Take them out of the oven, let them cool and then place them in a closed container.
If you think making as rings is time consuming, the cookies can be simply make as squares as well.
Since I used instant yeast, the texture was not the crumbly one as you get with baking powder and butter.