Cheese ma’amoul

Thanks to witty, warm and talented Ruby, I found out I have been nominated by SAVEUR in the category of  Best Regional Cuisine Blog. If you, dear reader, the anonymous one and the one that I have made friends with, care to see this little blog make it to instant STARDOM (lol), well, you can vote for Taste of Beirut, right here.

This pastry is so traditional for Easter that billboards all over the city had a picture of ma’amoul with the caption ” Only ma’amoul made by hand is good: use REAL butter” (ad for Danish butter). 

Pick a good melting cheese. The key is to desalt the cheese thoroughly. Middle-Eastern stores in the US sell a type of white cheese called sweet cheese that does not contain any salt and is specifically made for these types of pastries. Otherwise, you can use a mozzarella that has been soaked in water and desalted.

INGREDIENTS: makes about 30 ma’amoul

  • 1 1/2 cups of fine semolina flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of coarse semolina flour or cream of wheat
  • 1/2 tsp of dry instant yeast (optional)
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter + 1 tbsp of shortening or oil
  • 1/2 tsp of mahlab (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of rose and orange blossom water
  • 1/4 cup of water (+more as needed)
  • 8 ounces of cheese, like a sweet cheese or mozzarella
  • 3 tbsp of flour or cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1 tsp of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp of rose and orange blossom water
  1. Prepare the syrup: place the sugar, water in a saucepan and bring to a boil; add the lemon juice and boil for 10 minutes or until a drop of syrup on a countertop will feel sticky and somewhat firm. Add the flavoring at the end (rose and orange blossom or one or the other). Keep the syrup in a jar, in the fridge till needed. 
  2. Make the dough: Place the semolina flour and cream of wheat in the bowl of a mixer or food processor. Add the dry instant yeast and mahlab if using. Combine for a few seconds. Melt the butter, skimming the froth if possible,  and add the melted butter and shortening or oil to the bowl, mixing until the dough looks sandy. Add the orange blossom and rose water and the extra water and process till the dough leaves the sides of the bowl. 
  3. Gather the dough, transfer into a bowl, cover and leave in the fridge overnight. 
  4. Place the cheese in a bowl filled with water and change the water every 30 minutes or so until the cheese has lost all of its salt (this should take a couple of hours). Pat the cheese dry and shred in a food processor. Add the flour or cornstarch and mix to combine. Place in a bowl, cover and set aside.
  5. Remove the ma’amoul dough from the fridge and let it come to room temperature; make sure it is malleable; if it is too stiff, add a bit of rose water and knead it to get it softer. Break pieces of dough the size of large walnuts and set aside. Form a hole in the ball and fill with one tablespoon of cheese. Pinch the ball shut and crimp it with the special tweezers called malkat or a fork. Set the ma’amoul on a tray covered with baking paper and bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the pastries are light golden. Cool a bit and serve them with syrup. 
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  1. Posted April 6, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    As always these look so amazing!

  2. Posted April 6, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    This is a beautiful post and as always so helpful and informative!! Congrats on your nomination. I am off to vote for you!

  3. Angel of the North
    Posted April 7, 2012 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    This is the ultimate ma’amoul recipe! How I wsish we could get the moulds in the UK.All your recipes rock.

  4. Posted April 7, 2012 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    J, I saw your nomination and super happy for you! You deserve the stardom and pass me this mamoul please :) Dates are my favorite but going to try your chheeessyy ones :)

  5. Posted April 7, 2012 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    Wonderful! That filling is heavenly.,



  6. Posted April 7, 2012 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    I’ve always thought you were a star! So I’m off to vote!

  7. Posted April 7, 2012 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    Cheese-filled pastry? Beautiful! Congratulations on your nomination and happy Easter!

  8. Posted April 7, 2012 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    That’s one original recipe! I would love to taste your cheese maamouls.

  9. Posted April 7, 2012 at 2:34 am | Permalink

    hummm!! je découvre avec plaisir cette délicieuse version!! toutes mes félicitations pour ta nomination hautement méritée par le superbe travail que tu fais!
    très bon week end et joyeuses fêtes de Pâques!

  10. Posted April 7, 2012 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    These cheese filled cookies are so different and wonderful!

  11. Posted April 7, 2012 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    These treats look amazing!! Congrats on your Saveur nomination ~ well deserved.

  12. Posted April 7, 2012 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Superbes ces maamouls et la pince est très jolie!!
    j’ai voté :-)

  13. Posted April 7, 2012 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    a voté !! en moins jolie j’ai la même pince que toi pour mes poissons, je découvre qu’elle peut me servir à autre chose c’est top !

  14. Posted April 7, 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Joumana, you’ve already deserved this reward. Congratulations.
    Cheese ma’amouls are perfect.
    Happy Easter.

  15. Posted April 7, 2012 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Joumana, I’m so excited about your nomination in the Saveur awards in the “Best Regional Cooking Blog” category. I voted for you with pleasure and pride. The Cheese ma’amoul look heavenly.

  16. Posted April 7, 2012 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Congratulations on being nominated! I would love seeing you as the winner so more people get to know about Lebanese cuisine. :)

    Beautiful ma’amouls!

  17. Posted April 7, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    I love ma’amoul but never knew they were traditional for Easter. Hubby brought me a couple of moulds from his latest trip to the Gulf and I’ve been meaning to make the date and nut varieties. Have never tasted (or even heard of) the cheese but I love kanafeh, so I’m guessing I would love this too! Happy Easter!

  18. Posted April 7, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations on the nomination, and of course I voted for you!

  19. Posted April 7, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    These are amazing. And congratulations on your nomination. Well deserved! Good luck.

  20. Posted April 7, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Wow! These pastries look and sound delicious! Happy easter

  21. Posted April 7, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    I just voted for you. I hope you win.

    These cheese pastries look so delicious!

  22. Posted April 7, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    I popped over to congratulate you, because I saw your blog on Saveur!! CONGRATULATIONS!!! Obviously I voted for you– everything on your blog makes me want to beg you to adopt me and feed me forever and ever.

  23. Posted April 8, 2012 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    Gosh those are pretty. The filling looks delicious too.

    Fingers and toes crossed for you for Savuer food blog of the year. I read that magazine front o back every time.


  24. Posted April 8, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Joumana I’ll vote for you rigth now!! Have a nice Easter with PEACE and LOVE!! This recipe is amazing but I don’t dare…

  25. Vickie H.
    Posted April 8, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Voted – congratulations…and much deserved! Happy Easter. =)

  26. Posted April 8, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations…and what a lovely recipe…they look so beautiful too.

  27. Posted April 8, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations!!!The recipe looks delicious!

  28. Posted April 8, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Congratualtions!!!!! What an excitig nomination! Totally deserved, of course! And I have no doubt that you will win! (oh, and your pastries look delish!)

  29. bergamot
    Posted April 8, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations. you have a beautiful and deserve. I hop in here whenever I need to more about mid-east cooking and ingredients.
    BTW, the pastry is really beautiful.

  30. Posted April 9, 2012 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    Mmmm mmm what beautiful and delicious cookies! That is so exciting about your nomination. On my way to vote for you now. You will WIN!!

  31. Posted April 9, 2012 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    Congrats on your nomination, of course my vote is yours, have been a regular reader since I stumbled onto your blog.

  32. Posted April 9, 2012 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Your cheese ma’amoul looks incredible, Joumana! A huge congrats on your nomination — I just voted for you! :)

  33. Posted April 9, 2012 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    These treats look amazing, I love this recipe, thanks for sharing…

  34. Posted April 9, 2012 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Alaaah, ils sont magnifiques tes ma’amouls et seront tellement délicieux!! Félicitations pour la nomination!! Bonne soirée.

  35. Posted April 10, 2012 at 3:44 am | Permalink

    I voted for you – hope you win! You really deserve it – such consistently delicious recipes :)

  36. Posted April 10, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations, Joumana! I’m not surprised at all with all the beautiful recipes from Beirut that you share with us. I’ll be voting ;)

    Your cheese maamoul are not exception – so beautiful and delicious!

  37. Halim
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Do these have to refrigerated since they’re filled with cheese, or can they stay out for a few days?

  38. Joumana
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    @Halim: I keep them in the fridge and warm them up for a few seconds in your microwave when ready to eat. (or in a slow oven)

  39. Posted April 12, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    I’ve had and made sweet ma’amoul, but never a savory version…I’m intrigued. I’m also heading to Saveur right now to vote, good luck!

  40. Joumana
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    @Oui, Chef: This version is sweet.

  41. Posted April 19, 2012 at 2:26 am | Permalink

    I nominated you so I had to vote you of course. Fingers crossed!

  42. Esther
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Dough recipe for Almond 4/2011, and Pistachio 3/2011 Ma’moul are the same. Both are baked in 400F.
    Cheese Ma’moul 4/2012 recipe dough has added yeast, and is baked at 350F.
    Crown cookies Kaak 3/2011 dough recipe is the same, and baked at 350F
    Kaak Bel Ajwah, Semolina Cookies 3/2009. Dough recipe is different: it has milk, and sugar, and they are baked at 325F.
    I am confused:
    What is the best dough recipe?
    What is the ideal baking temp.?
    Also what are the proportions of dough to filling? How thick should the dough be?
    Do I want to maximize the filling per dough, and have a very thing dough?

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