Cheese maamoul

April 6, 2012  •  Category: ,

Cheese maamoul served warm in Beirut at

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.

Arab grocers in the US sell wooden or plastic molds to make maamoul, usually around Eid time but sometimes they can be found year-round. It does make the maamoul cranking operation a lot easier. I do like crimping them by hand, but preferably if it is done with a good friend and some tea.

Cheese maamoul

Joumana Accad Mediterranean, Middle Eastern April 6, 2012 Cookies, Sweet Pastries, Pastry, cheese, traditional, semolina, ma'amoul, cookies, sweet pastry, tagged,

6-8 servings

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 10 minutes


  • 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. 

Recipe Notes

You can make this pastry using only one type of semolina, preferably the fine semolina. 

You can skip the syrup and use honey or powdered sugar instead. 

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43 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Amanda says:

    As always these look so amazing!

  2. Lyndsey says:

    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 says:

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

  4. Kulsum at JourneyKit says:

    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. Rosa says:

    Wonderful! That filling is heavenly.,



  6. Bo W says:

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

  7. the indolent cook says:

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

  8. Cherine says:

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

  9. kouky says:

    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. Angie@Angiesrecipes says:

    These cheese filled cookies are so different and wonderful!

  11. marla says:

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

  12. Marina says:

    Superbes ces maamouls et la pince est très jolie!!
    j’ai voté 🙂

  13. Mercotte says:

    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. sare says:

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

  15. Alaiyo Kiasi says:

    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. Tobias says:

    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. Ruby says:

    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. Kalyn says:

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

  19. Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie) says:

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

  20. Ambika says:

    Wow! These pastries look and sound delicious! Happy easter

  21. Christine @ Fresh says:

    I just voted for you. I hope you win.

    These cheese pastries look so delicious!

  22. sophia says:

    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. Velva says:

    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. Paula Mello says:

    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. says:

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

  26. myfrenchkitchen says:

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

  27. Erica says:

    Congratulations!!!The recipe looks delicious!

  28. Katie@Cozydelicious says:

    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 says:

    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. bananawonder says:

    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. sandhya@vegetarianir says:

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

  32. Faith says:

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

  33. Chiara says:

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

  34. Culinaire Amoula says:

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

  35. says:

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

  36. Susan says:

    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 says:

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

    • Joumana says:

      @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)

  38. Oui, Chef says:

    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!

  39. Nuts about food says:

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

  40. Esther says:

    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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