Orange Maamoul

February 4, 2022  •  Category: ,


Maamoul filled with orange, specifically Seville orange or bousfeyr (bitter orange), was not known in Lebanon when I grew up. The maamoul varieties made by my grandmother and countless other tétas throughout Lebanon were filled either with crushed almonds, pistachios, walnuts or date.  Maamoul with bitter orange paste is actually a Syrian specialty. The Syrians are the recognized masters in the realm of several pastries like Barazek that we would go get from Damascus whenever someone we knew was traveling there; I believe these orange maamoul were originally created in Aleppo. I was in Damascus recently and was thrilled to see them on a pastry plate at the wonderful Naranj  I loved the slightly tangy/sour/sweet/citrusy flavor of the orange filling contrasting with the buttery soft and crumbly maamoul shell. I had to try making them!

Winter  is the season for Seville oranges  so I searched high and low here in Austin for some, but did not have much luck! So I used regular sweet oranges. Since  I could not get a hold of a reliable recipe,  I  improvised.

The orange filling can also be made with kumquats. I made this recipe twice and the second time, added some amardeenthat sweet apricot leather from Syria and used blood oranges.

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filling maamoul

fill with date paste and orange

orange marmelade

The leftover orange marmalade can be eaten with a spoon! Yummy with a cup of hot tea or coffee on a cold day.

Orange maamoul

Orange Maamoul

Joumana Accad Mediterranean, Middle Eastern February 4, 2022 Sweet Pastries, Pastries/Breads, traditional, arabic pastries, Syrian, ma'amoul, orange, lebanese,

30-35 maamoul servings

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Passive Time: 6 hours


1 Batch maamoul dough consisting of:

3 cups fine semolina

1 cup melted ghee or unsalted butter

1/2 cup of combined orange blossom water and rose water (more or less as needed)

1/2 tsp mahlab (optional)

Milk (optional)

1/2 tsp yeast (optional)

1/4 cup sugar (optional)


2 small oranges (300 g.), thin-skinned if possible

1 cup granulated sugar (more if adding amardeen to the mixture)

1/2 cup water (more as needed)

1 envelope gelatin (more if using amardeen and more water, use 2 envelopes)

1 Tbsp orange blossom water (optional)

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/2 sheet amardeen (optional), soaked in 2 cups of water overnight to soften

Filling with date paste:

1 bag date paste (about 14 ounces)

4 Tbsp ghee or butter

1 tsp Mexican vanilla or a pinch of cardamom or flavoring of your choice




maamoul to bake

Start by making the filling:

  1. Place the oranges or kumquats in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, then dump the water. Repeat this process 3 times. Cool the oranges on a cutting board.
  2. In the saucepan, place 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a simmer and let the sugar melt, adding a tablespoon of lemon juice to the mixture. Cut the oranges into chunks and add to the sugar syrup, simmer for 15 minutes, then cool. Refrigerate the mixture in the covered saucepan for a few hours or overnight. At this stage, I transferred the mixture to my food processor and puréed it. 
  3. The next day, take the orange mixture out of the fridge. Test it by taking a a teaspoon out and placing it on a plate to check if the mixture is firm or still runny. Add about 1/2 cup of cold water and sprinkle the envelope of gelatin over it. Slowly bring the mixture back to a simmer, stirring to mix . Bring to a boil for a few seconds, then turn off the heat. Cool the orange mixture on the counter then refrigerate. Check after a few hours to make sure it has firmed up and can be used as a filling. It should be nice and stiff.
  4. Make the maamoul dough: Place the semolina in a large bowl and add the melted ghee or butter in a steady stream, stirring to mix. Mix the mixture until all the semolina is moistened with melted ghee or butter. Cover and set aside for a few hours.
  5. Add the fragrant waters to the semolina and mix by hand until the mixture is pliable and easy to work with. Add more water (or milk) if necessary, one tablespoon at a time.

To shape the maamoul:

  1. Divide the dough into balls the size of a large walnut and place them side by side on a large piece of wax paper.
  2. Take each balls and hollow it out with the index finger. Fill with a teaspoon of orange jelly or both orange jelly and date paste , then seal the balls carefully, rolling it out to smooth it as much as possible.
  3. Place the ball in a maamoul mold (previously greased with oil), tap on the cookie sheet (lined with parchment paper) and when all the maamoul have been filled and shaped , bake in a 350F oven for about 20 minutes until the maamoul are set and dry and slightly golden, but not browned.

Recipe Notes


If using amardeen, first soak it in water by cutting it into pieces, and leave it in a bowl of water overnight.  Transfer to a saucepan and mix with an immersion blender or in the blender to purée the mixture. Add it to the orange mixture and simmer while stirring to blend the two evenly, tasting to add more sugar if necessary. Simmer until the mixture is thick and adequately sweetened. To add the gelatin, cool the mixture first, then add 1/4 cup of water and sprinkle the gelatin over the water to mix. Stir and bring to a simmer to mix the gelatin well. Cool and refrigerate for a few hours till set.

For the date filling:

Place the ghee and date paste in a saucepan over low heat; combine gently   until thoroughly mixed, adding the flavoring such as cardamom or vanilla or any other. When the mixture is smooth and soft, transfer to a bowl  and cool . For each maamoul, use about a teaspoon, with the orange jelly.

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10 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Cat says:

    What can I substitute semolina to make this recipe gluten free.

  2. Marlene says:

    I’ve been trying for years to get my hands on this recipe without success! I bought your cookbook and all of Barbara massaad’s cookbooks hoping to find it as I don’t like to experiment on my own and waste good ingredients . I hope that one day you will poste maamoul with honey filling . A friend of mine gave me a box from Nicolas audi years ago and I’m still dreaming of them to this day

    • Joumana Accad says:

      @Marlene Actually Marlene, I vaguely remember seeing the recipe in Marlene’s book on Aleppo Cuisine, that I acquired in Lebanon, but since I don’t have it here in Texas, I had no choice but to experiment. I am pretty sure the real recipe uses sour oranges, but I did not find any, plus it gets complicated since their skin is so thick and rough. Here you can use thin-skinned oranges or kumquats and you won’t run into any trouble.

      • Marlene says:

        I trust your experiments! They look tasty . The only thing that made me anxious before having a nicely written recipe with measurings is the filling oozing out of the maamoul shell in the oven ! Other than that it’s a pretty straight forward recipe

  3. Ava says:

    Oh my! Sounds lovely with oranges. My mom, grandma, and aunties all make/made this with a date/nut filling, usually walnuts and pistachios but orange would be so refreshing! Thank you for sharing this wonderful variation.

  4. Judy Abdi-Buksa says:

    Dear Jumana!

    Actually I tried yesterday with \”naranj\” filling my ma\’amouls for Eid al Fitr.. They are very-very delicious. Thank for this great recipe! I prepared alone, but it was a fun. I always prepate it with dates but this is a very nice new version. THANK YOU

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