Pistachio maamoul

March 23, 2011  •  Category:


The ma’mouls were an Easter tradition in our house established by my grandmother who made them by hand from start to finish. No wooden ma’moul molds for her or  food processor. She used her fingers, knuckles and palms. To shape the cookies, she used malkat, those brass tweezers that I finally found in Beirut at a small shop down the street run by a 90-year young man.

Ma’mouls are basically a shortbread cookie filled with nuts (or dates or sweet cream). Except the flour used is semolina and farina (aka cream of wheat). They are now sold year-round in pastry shops in Beirut, but were usually made at home for holidays, as a family tradition.

Are they hard to make? No, they are easy:  Just plan on some time to let the dough rest and invite someone to help shape them (more fun).

INGREDIENTS: Makes about 36, and up to 50 depending on the size of the mold used.

  • 1 1/2 cup of semolina
  • 1 1/2 cup of cream of wheat
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup of rose water and orange blossom water (pour into a measuring cup 3 ounces of rose water first and the rest can be orange blossom water)
  • 14 ounces of pistachios
  • Sugar syrup: 2 cups of sugar, 1 cup of water, 1/2 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of rose water, 1 teaspoon of orange blossom water. OR use powdered sugar, as needed. (I favor syrup)
  • Extra butter (2 or 3 tablespoons) as needed


  1. MAKE THE DOUGH: Place the semolina and cream of wheat in the bowl of a food processor (or a mixer). Run the machine for a few seconds to combine the two.
  2. Melt the sticks of butter over low heat, skimming as much of the foam as possible. Transfer the butter to a measuring jug with a spout and pour into the food processor with the machine running, using the feed tube. A dough will form and it will be sandy.
  3. Pour the rose and orange blossom water through the feed tube and run the machine for a couple of minutes to incorporate. When the dough leaves the sides of the bowl, it is ready. Transfer the dough to a ziploc bag (one quart should be enough) and seal the bag well. Let the dough rest in the bag for one hour or longer. (My grandmother let the dough rest overnight). The longer the better.
  4. MAKE THE FILLING: Place two cups of sugar and one cup of water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice. Simmer gently for no more than 10 minutes. Add the last 30 seconds one teaspoon of rose water and one teaspoon of orange blossom water. Let the syrup cool.
  5. Place the pistachios in the bowl of a food processor; add about 4 tablespoons of syrup, 2 tablespoons of softened butter (optional) and pulse until the pistachios are the consistency you like. Some people like to get a paste, I prefer the nuts to be chopped medium-fine.
  6. MAKING THE MA’MOULS: Use cookie droppers if you have them to save time and form balls of dough and elongated balls of stuffing and line them up on a large piece of wax paper. Grab one ball and press it between the palms of your hand, in order to get a disk, about 3 inches long. Place the nuts in the middle and enclose the disk with your fingertips. Roll the ball between the palms of your hand until the seam is smooth and not visible.
  7. Grease and flour a ma’moul mold and insert the ball of stuffed dough; press with your palm a bit and with a decisive movement, flip the mold onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake the ma’mouls for 20 minutes in a 400F oven or until pale-golden. Do not let them brown! Serve either warm or cooled sprinkled with either some powdered sugar or dabbed in a little of the sugar syrup that you have made earlier. (I prefer the syrup, makes them more moist).


Ma’moul molds are found in all Middle-Eastern stores. Traditionally, ma’mouls were sprinkled with powdered sugar and distributed to friends and neighbors and relatives for religious holidays. I prefer to use a syrup which gives the dough extra moistness.

If you find that your dough is too dry, simply add more rose or orange blossom water to make the dough moist and pliable. Letting the dough rest for one hour or longer allows the semolina flours to soak up the butter and imbibe with the fragrance of the rose and orange blossom.

The sugar syrup can be made up to two weeks ahead and stored covered in the fridge till needed. Any extra syrup can be used to sweeten anything from smoothies to pancakes to muffins to salad dressings, puddings, etc.

If adding all the rose water and orange blossom sounds too much, you can substitute with water or milk.


52 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Anita says:

    You’re after my heart with this one. I LOVE pistachios, especially when wrapped with this crumbly, buttery dough. YUM YUM!

  2. Amanda says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe! These are my favorite and I will be trying this recipe this weekend! Thanks for such a wonderful blog

  3. bergamot says:

    These look wonderful. Isn’t cream of wheat and semolina the same thing? That’s what I thought until I saw this recipe. Maybe I will do some research on it.

  4. domi says:

    Bonjour Joumana, quels adorables petits ” bouts de choux ” , ils sont à croquer, bisous et passe une belle journée

  5. Marcela says:

    OMG!!!!…..I’ve been desperately trying to find a recipe of pistachio (and date!) mamouls…..and your recipe is what I wanted!!….three questions..1)Where can I buy those molds in the USA (online)?….I went to the Lebanese supermarket here, and they don’t have it….2)What is the weight of each butter stick?….3) Do you use the same dough for date mamouls?…….Thanks a lot for this mamouls!!!..You don’t know how much I love them….Abrazotes, Marcela

    • Joumana says:

      @Marcela: I am going to post subsequent recipes for date and almond and cheese ma’mouls; but yes, the dough is the same for all of them. These molds are sold in middle-eastern stores and it is just a matter of grabbing them when they are on display: they go quickly! But I was told that a store “Sur la Table” which has an online catalogue, sells them. You can also check with online ethnic food purveyors, or use tweezers, the traditional way to decorate ma’mouls.
      The weight of the butter sticks is 4 ounces or 112 g. So, 225 g. of unsalted butter should be fine. Don’t worry, this dough is very forgiving, if it is dry, add some rose water or milk.

  6. Eve@CheapEthnicEatz says:

    These look amazing and they are a great group project. I actually love the mold you are using, Pistachios are so good.

  7. Leilee says:

    These look beautiful. I usually buy the date filled ma’mouls from our local Middle Eastern store and I love them, but I bet they’re even better with pistachios.

  8. historyofgreekfood says:

    Ι love ma’mouls!! I’ve bought very same wooden moulds in Istanbul but i thought they were kourabie -molds, so I use them as kourabie shapers!

  9. tinytearoom says:

    aww. these look awesome. the last time I tried to use a mould, I failed miserably. These look like treats I’d happily chomp on.

  10. Sweet Artichoke says:

    OMG, your mamouls are beautiful and I bet they taste heavenly! We have planned a mamoul baking day with a friend and this pistacchio version will be on our list 🙂

  11. 5 Star Foodie says:

    These are beauties! They sound wonderful with the pistachio filling, yum!

  12. Claudia says:

    A pistachio-filled cookie would receive a lot of attention and love in my home. Loving this as an Easter treat. Love those sweet nuts encased in a buttery-dough filling.

  13. Susan says:

    These sound so delicious! All I need are the orange and rose blossom waters.

  14. fimère says:

    la version avec les pistaches doit être tout aussi succulente que celle avec les dattes
    j’en prends note
    bonne journée

  15. Peter says:

    Ahhh, you did use moulds for the Mamouls. The possibilities are endless with the filling but I’d probably like pistachios best.

  16. Devaki says:

    My heart tugs with this one Joumana…I know I would just adore this and after my pistachio tea biscuits, its so nice to see a cousin 🙂 What beautiful family traditions you have Joumana and aren’t we all richer forthem?

    I would love to make these one day – once I know where to get the molds.

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  17. Cherine says:

    Yummy, can’t wait for Easter to eat maamouls 🙂

  18. Adelina says:

    Love your ma’mouls Joumana! I have only had them with walnuts… I think I would love them with pistachios. I always wanted to know how to make them. I usually buy them from the bakery.

  19. Heavenly Housewife says:

    What an absolutely beautiful cookie. I’d love to get my hands on one of those special moulds.
    *kisses* HH

  20. Magic of Spice says:

    Your Mamouls are so lovely…gorgeous really!

  21. Citron says:

    Oh! Wow! These must be delicious. Congratulations. They also look amazing.

  22. Suman Singh says:

    They look absolutely irresistible…we too make a dish called gujjia somewhat similar to this..thanks for the recipe..

  23. Christine @ Fresh says:

    Ooooh! These petite desserts look sensational! I’ve always wondered how the essence of rose water would infuse in dessert doughs. I hope to be able to try this one day!

  24. Ciaochowlinda says:

    This is the first time I’ve seen these and I just love reading about how other cultures celebrate holiday traditions. They’re beautiful and I’m sure equally delicious.

  25. Nadji says:

    Cela fait une éternité que j’ai acheté les moules à maamouls et je n’en ai toujours pas fait.
    Serait-il possible quand tu utilises les mesures américaines de rajouter en gr entre parenthèses.
    Cela nous facilitera les calculs. Quant aux tasses, je pars toujours du principe qu’une tasse fait 250gr. Est-ce juste pour la tienne?
    J’aurai dégusté quelques-uns de tes maamouls avec plaisir.
    Je ne connais pas la version fromage. Je suis très curieuse de voir ce que ça donne.
    A très bientôt.

    • Joumana says:

      @Nadji: C’est promis, je mettrai les onces et les grammes; je vais peser mes tasses de nouveau et marquer les grammes.:)

  26. Conor @ HoldtheBeef says:

    I was lucky enough to have a labmate make me some of these a couple of years ago, and haven’t come across them since. These ones are so pretty, with the patterning!

  27. Ivy says:

    The ma’mouls look very pretty and surely very tasteful. I had bookmarked a recipe a couple of years ago and never made them because I don’t have a mold.

  28. Bria @ WestofPersia says:

    I’m enjoying catching up on your recent posts and am loving this one about one of my favorite cookies. Thanks for demystifying how these are made. I might just have to snag one of those molds and get to work!

  29. Kathy says:

    I love Ma’moul! They are so delicious! When I make them, I use a mixture of nuts! Yours look perfect!

  30. MK says:

    Hi Joumana, your mamoul recipe looks fantastic and it is my aim to make them this year. I live in England, UK and have tried to find an online supplier of traditional molds but had no luck. With your connections have you any suggestions?

    • Joumana says:

      @Marianna: I am sure you will find maamoul molds in any Middle-Eastern stores around holiday time, Christmas or Easter or maybe Ramadan that is starting in a couple of days.

  31. Marianna Kapnisis says:

    I am making maamoul this Christmas to replace the traditional (and ever so boring) greek kourambiedes. I am however trying to get organised because i will be feeding a lot of people. How early can i make them? Do they keep well for a few weeks or so? I want to avoid any last minute baking. Thanks.

  32. Ali Hamdan says:

    ma moul bil fistuk i love it with roses water… thank you

  33. judy says:

    Could you use a Madeleine mold instead of the wooden ma mouls mold. Since we can’t find the right mold

  34. Jonessabowhydon'tyou says:

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  35. Yara says:

    Hi again Joumana !!
    Another great recipe!!
    I wanted to ask : can i make these with a walnut/sugar filling?
    And why you noted to use semolina and cream of wheat ? Aren’t they the same thing ?
    I have made so many recipes from this site I’m becoming famous among my family

    • Joumana says:

      @Yara: Yes, you certainly can! I have seen other fillings besides the traditional walnut, pistachio or almonds; so be as creative as you like! 🙂
      I suggested the semolina and cream of wheat because they are not exactly the same, one is coarser than the other; that being said, one can make ma’amoul with only one or the other. Fine semolina is called ferkha here in Lebanon and coarse semolina is called smeed; in the US, I have found both types at the Arab grocery. The cream of wheat is a substitute available in all main US supermarkets.
      So glad to hear this site is useful, wow! 🙂

  36. Yara says:

    Thanks ! U r awesome !

  37. Yara says:

    Hi its me again!
    Unfortunately i made these but they came out a bit hard , from what i know maamols should be very chewy why do you think that happened? Thanks in advance !

    • Joumana says:

      @Yara: The maamouls are not chewy, but crumbly. It could be that the dough was overworked; did you make them by hand or in a mixer? they need to be mixed just until the dough begins to hold together; the large quantity of butter (or samneh, or ghee) makes them hard initially when they come out of the oven but rich. Sorry the first trial was not satisfactory.

  38. Cali says:

    Hi Jumanna I am reading through your maamool recipes and all of them involve a food processor. I don’t own one. How should we proceed for those of us who are doing this hands on? I made some yesterday using a little yeast that was called for in the recipe and they ended up rising and turning out like little bread balls. Perhaps it was from the yeast or maybe I kneaded the dough too much. I am looking forward to trying your recipe sans the machinery. I appreciate any advice that you can offer.

    • Joumana says:

      @Cali: MY grandmother did it without any yeast and food processor; just place the semolina and add the melted clarified butter and stir with a wooden spoon; cover and let it rest overnight (for the semolina to soak up the butter); the next day, you will find that it gets a bit hard, add rose and orange blossom water (one tablespoon at a time ) and knead the dough with your knuckles until it is malleable and soft. I think the coffee cup came from Lebanon.

  39. Cali says:

    Thanks Joumana!

  40. P says:

    I am making maamoul bi joz tonight!
    I had everything on hand so I thought why not even if it’s july
    I remember the day you posted this recipe years ago , I can close my eyes and go back in time and it feels so good to time travel .
    your blog is all about nostalgia for me. Whenever I feel the urge to have those same feelings again , I know where to find them .This is precious!

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