This recipe took me about 3 months (even longer) to make. I had prepared the dough (it takes one minute or so) and stored it in a bag in the fridge. I kept glancing at it every once in a while thinking about making maamoul using one of the half dozen molds I have. The thought of making maamoul felt really blah and I would just refrain from grabbing that bag of semolina dough.
Finally, after months (3 months? 4 months?) I did grab that bag, gave it a quick sniff. It smelled fine. I thought, well, maybe I can do maamoul madd instead! Just spread the dough in a pan, cover it with a layer of date paste and then a top layer of dough and done!
So I did just that. It worked out SUPERBLY!!! I loved the results even more than when I made maamoul painstakingly, one at a time.
Maamoul bars with datesJoumana Accad Mediterranean, Middle Eastern August 24, 2022 Sweet Pastries, Pastries/Breads, semolina, bars, traditional food, date paste, ma'amoul, Pastry,
25-35 maamoul bars servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
3 cups fine semolina
1 cup melted ghee or butter + 1/4 cup butter or ghee for the date paste
14 oz date paste OR 2 cups of dates (seeded) softened in one cup of water or orange juice (fresh).
Flavoring for the date paste: vanilla or orange blossom water, 1tsp or more, to taste
- In a bowl, place the semolina and pour the melted butter or ghee. Mix to combine until the mixture forms a dough. Transfer to a plastic bag or container, cover and leave in the fridge overnight or (like I did) for several months.
- Make the filling: Now there are two possibilities, either use date paste already done and sold in packages of 14 ounces each, or make your own with dates purchased whole. I used some dates I had that were languishing in the fridge. First, you open each to make sure they are clean inside (no minuscule bugs crawling), dump the pit, and transfer them to a saucepan. Add water or juice (orange, or other that goes well with dates) and simmer gently for about 30 minutes or longer or until the dates have softened enough and get plumped-up. At this point, cool and then transfer to a food processor to purée them, adding a few dollops of butter or ghee to the mixture. I used about 4 tablespoons of butter. You can also add some spices or flavoring if you like (vanilla, rum, rose or orange blossom water for example, cardamom, cinnamon, clove)
- So now is time to form the bars. Remove the dough from the bag, massage it a bit and cut it into two halves. Roll one half between two sheets of wax paper to fit the pan. This dough is soft so it is easy to adjust or cut off a few pieces here and there to get it to fit. Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Spread the date paste over the bottom layer as evenly as possible, without going too close to the edge to avoid having the date paste slip through and burn on contact with the hot pan.
- Roll the top layer between two sheets of wax paper and remove the top sheet and flip it over the date layer. Chisel the dough here and there as needed to get it as even as possible and prick it with a fork or use the fork to make a design. This is totally optional.
- Bake for about 35 minutes or until the dough looks golden and brownish around the edges. Cool and remove carefully from the pan, as this is an extremely brittle dough, similar to shortbread.
- Cut into bars and enjoy!
- If using the date paste that comes in a 14-ounce package, run it through the processor as well with some melted butter and a couple tablespoons of juice or flavoring to soften the mixture as it tends to be stiff.
- The semolina dough should be soft, but once it sits in the fridge tightly wrapped in a plastic bag, it will stiffen and the semolina will expand (especially since I left mine for months at a time). In the event the dough is too stiff or dry, a little milk or (what my grandmother used to do) some orange blossom water or rose water added one tablespoon at a time will do the trick.
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