Remember a few weeks ago, when the Twinkie news broke out? People panicking thinking they would never get to eat a Twinkie, ever again? People even selling them on Ebay?? Food bloggers posting recipes on how to make them at home??
Well, we never quite got what all the commotion was about. Maybe because we didn’t grow up here? Or maybe because we’ve never eaten one? I don’t know…
I’m not saying we grew up without any treats around the house. Yes, we did have factory made, little snack cakes in Spain that we ate once in a while. But growing up in a Middle Eastern influenced household, let’s just say that our treats were a bit… “different”.
Our grandmother (probably one of the best bakers we’ve ever known) used to make the most amazing homemade treats, all from scratch. Over the years we’ve tried to get the recipes from her, but the thing is, she never, ever followed one. “You have to feel the dough to know it has the right consistency”, she used to say. Well, that doesn’t really help when you’re thousands of miles away now, does it?
We really wanted to recreate her Maamul (nut and date filled semolina cookies), which we’ve always loved, but we weren’t sure where to start so… what did we do? Since we couldn’t fly all the way to Israel to see our grandmother, we stopped by the one place in town that could provide us with the authentic recipe: a Middle Eastern restaurant and grocery store called “Norma’s”. Probably the closest thing to our mom’s (and grandmother’s) kitchen we can find around here. Run by this sweet, beautiful lady named Norma and her son Elias, this place offers the most amazing, one hundred percent authentic Middle Eastern dishes, all made from scratch. Just like our mom used to make them.
So we asked Norma if she would mind sharing some of her recipes with us and she very kindly did. And of course, we got the one we were so desperately looking for! We were even able to buy the Maamoul mold we needed to make these, right from her store! We were so excited!
We slightly modified the recipe she gave us to make it vegan, but the result was just as delicious.
Give them a try… and you might even forget about those Twinkie things
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
- In a large bowl, combine semolina, flour, sugar and coconut oil. Mix well using your hands until the coconut oil is well incorporated ( it should look like course cornmeal at this point)
- Slowly add almond milk and orange blossom water and keep working with your hands until it forms a smooth dough. Set aside and let it rest for about 20-25 minutes
- In the meantime, prepare the filling: combine ground pistachios, agave and orange blossom water in a bowl and mix well
- Working with about a tablespoon of dough at a time, for 18 balls. Using your thumb press a hole in the center of each ball. Place about 1 teaspoon in the hole, close it up, and roll it into a ball again
- Press each filled ball gently into the maamul mold and bang it against the counter to release it
- Arrange the cookies into the lined baking sheet and bake at 350F for approximately 20 minutes, until golden brown
- Once cooled, sprinkle with confectioner's sugar