Meneinas (Ma’amoul)

From Crunchy, by Alice Medrich. The recipe originated in Alexandria, Egypt.)


Dough: 3 cups all-purpose flour (You could substitute a scant 1 cup of semolina flour for 1 cup of all-purpose flour)

2 tsp. baking powder

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tbsp. granulated sugar

2 tbsp. milk

1 tbsp. orange flower water or rose water*

Filling Option 1

2 cups chopped moist dates

2 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tsp. finely grated orange zest

Pinch of salt

1-2 tsp. orange flower water or rose water, orange juice, or water as needed to moisten.

Filling Option 2

2 cups finely ground toasted walnuts

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. orange flower water or rose water, or more

1 tsp. finely grated orange zest

1 tsp. water, or more, as needed

Powdered sugar, for coating cookies


Dough: Whisk together flour and baking powder in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a mixer, beat softened butter for about 1 minute, or until the consistency of mayonnaise. Add sugar and beat well to combine. Add milk and flower water and beat until thoroughly absorbed. Cover bowl and set aside while you make the filling.

Filling – Option 1: Combine dates, butter, orange zest, and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Using a fork or potato masher, mash into a paste. Remove pot from heat and stir in nuts. If paste is dry, add a teaspoon of flower water, orange juice, or water to moisten. Place a sheet of wax paper on a plate and roll paste into 1-inch balls. Set aside.

Filling – Option 2: Combine walnuts, granulated sugar, floral water, and orange zest.  Mix well. Set aside.

To assemble: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange baking racks in the upper third and lower third of oven. Line a large baking sheet (or 2 smaller ones) with parchment paper.  Fill a small bowl halfway with powdered sugar (adding more later as needed). Set aside.

Lightly flour counter top. Gather dough together in your hands and form into a ball.  Roll out dough into a circle or rectangle about 1/8” thick. Using a floured 2 ½” cookie cutter or the top edge of a drinking glass, cut out as many circles as you can.

If forming ma’amoul with a tabi** lightly spray or oil the mold. Set one circle into the bottom of the mold, pressing gently. Place a ball of date filling or a teaspoon of walnut filling into center of dough and cover with another circle, pressing dough gently around the edges to seal both pieces of dough together. Turn tabi upside down and slam it onto the prepared baking pan. Use your hands to gently push down the sides to accentuate the traditional beehive shape.

If forming ma’amoul by hand, place one circle of dough in the palm of your hand and form a shallow well in the center of the dough, making sure that the dough does not tear. Place a ball of date filling or a teaspoon of walnut filling into the well. Cover with another circle of dough, pressing outer edges of dough together to seal. Set onto prepared baking pan and gently push down on the sides to create a beehive shape. Decorate dough with a maa’laat or the tines of a fork.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating pans from one rack to the other halfway through, for even baking. Do not let cookies brown!

Let cookies cool on pans for 3 minutes, then gently turn them, one at a time, upside down into the bowl of powdered sugar. Transfer to cooling racks and let cool completely before serving. When completely cool, the cookies may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week.  Makes 30-36 cookies.