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Maamoul II (D/P, TNT)
Source: The Book of Jewish Cooking by Claudia Roden
Yield: 4 dozen

3-1/3 cups (500g, 1 lb. 2 oz.) flour
2 tbsp. sugar
8 oz. (250g) unsalted butter (except the first time, always I use margarine and its almost the same)
1 tbsp. rose or orange blossom water (can be found in a Mediterranean grocery)
1 tbsp. milk or as required (I sub with water)
Confectioners' sugar to sprinkle on

Nut Filling:
1-1/2 cups (200g) walnuts or pistachios, finely chopped
4 to 6 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon (only for the walnut filling)
2 tbsp. rose or orange blossom water (can be found in a Mediterranean grocery)

Date Filling:
10 oz. (300g) pitted dates (preferable a soft variety)
4 to 6 tbsp. water or as required

For the dough, rub butter in to flour and sugar. The book recommends using a food processor but I usually work with a pastry cutter. Add in flower water and just enough milk (water) to bind the dough into a soft, malleable ball.

For the nut filling, mix the ingredients together.

For the date filling, blend the dates in the food processor with just enough water to make a soft paste. Here in Israel you can buy date spread which I use as date filling.

Take walnut-sized lumps of dough. Make a hole in the center with your thumb, and enlarge it by pinching the sides as if shaping a little pot, turning and pressing against your palm. The walls should be quite thin, any breaks are easily patched.

Fill the hole with one of the fillings to three quarters full, and bring the dough up over the opening to close into a ball. Flatten the filled balls slightly and arrange on a a baking sheet with the smooth side up.

Make a design by pinching all over the top with dented pincers or by pricking with a fork.

Bake in a preheated 325°F (160°C) oven for 20 to 30 minutes - no longer! DO NOT LET THEM BROWN! The pastries will be very soft and still pale when they come out of the oven, but they will firm when they cool. Do not try to move them until they do.

Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.

Poster's Notes:
The cookies are called maamoul and are traditional for Purim. The main thing about these cookies is the pattern on top which can be made by special pincers or simply by a fork, not unlike the way you shape gniocci.

After the cookie is baked its sprinkled with a lot of confectioners' sugar. The pattern comes here useful to trap the sugar. If you don't use it, the cookies will not be sweet enough.

Here is the recipe I have been using for a few years now, from Claudia Roden. I have tried several others - and liked this recipe the best.

Posted by Raya Tarab, Z'L

Nutritional Info Per Serving: N/A