three great things happened this weekend!
1. i overcame my fear of stranger things. and then binge watched half the season. i stopped being scared mostly because it just became too weird and unreal. if it was any more realistic, i would have never been able to walk from one side of the house to the other at night by myself, but because it's gotten soooo fantasy/sci-fi, and because i do a regular palate cleanser of a few minutes of jane the virgin afterwards, i'm now officially *good*.
2. i became a scoby mommy! a little while ago, ariel posted about a scoby baby up for adoption so i adopted her and she arrived this weekend. i'm naming her angelica and she's gonna get right to work making me kombucha. i'm so excited. kombucha party!
3. i was the lunch lady at unglued camp and it was the greatest time ever!!!!! there were around 130 campers and i've never cooked for that many people before ever (except for making wedding desserts), so every day for the past three months i devoted a sizeable portion of time to silently and violently freaking out about it, but it was so much fun! i credit it all to having the greatest helpers in all the land, including but not limited to eggsister (aka avocado anna, because we served avocado party toast) and eggboy, who arrived just in time to scramble and serve 200 eggies to some slightly hungover campers. we also made fancy grilled cheese and tomato squash soup, middle eastern tacos in a bag, and i taught a cake decorating workshop right before lunch so everyone could have an afternoon slice of layer cake. my campers made such stunning cakes! at night we shook our booties to the spice girls and had campfire weenies. and now it's officially been 24 hours since camp ended and no one's dead from my food! win.
so i guess we can celebrate all this with some cookies, yeah? ma'amoul are like dumpling cookies! the outside is a shortbread dough with a bit of semolina flour in it, and the filling is typically made of walnuts or dates, but because i am marzipan molly and because i have that thing for alliteration we are going with marzipan that's a little cinnamon-y. these cookies are popular across the levant and are often molded with special wooden molds to make intricate designs. i'm mad at myself for not picking one up when i was in tel aviv last month! i did try to buy a ma'amoul cookie at a bakery there though but i was told i couldn't get one unless i got a huge box of them and i was too full on humshuka to think about that. so i came home and made them with some mahlab that i brought back from my favorite spice store. mahlab is a special cherry seed that, when ground to a powder, adds a really lovely cozy almond flavor. it's not necessary in these, but if you happen to see mahlab anywhere, i would recommend picking some up to add to all sorts of baked goods. this recipe makes quite a few little cookies, but i find that they're better after a few days. the filling gets a little chewier, it's a nice contrast to the crumbly cookie.
2 c flour
1 c semolina
1/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tb ground mahlab, optional
1 c unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp rosewater
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c oil
2 c almond meal
1/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
a pinch of kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
2 large egg whites
powdered sugar, for dusting
preheat oven to 350ºf. line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
make the dough: combine dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. beat butter in stand mixer with paddle until fluffy. add rosewater and vanilla and mix to combine. then, add dry ingredients to the butter until the mixture becomes a coarse, mealy mixture. add oil one tablespoon at a time until the ingredients come together to form a dough. divide the dough into two equal pieces, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
make the filling: combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl, mixing well until filling resembles a thick paste, like marzipan. if the mixture is dry, add a few drops of water until you get desired consistency. roll filling into a long log that's about 2 inches in diameter. wrap in parchment or wax paper until ready to use.
work with half of filling and dough at a time. roll half of the filling into 16 balls. divide half of the dough into 16 pieces. flatten the dough into a disc and wrap around one piece of the filling. flatten the cookie slightly and shape, slicing a few decorative slits into the sides as desired. repeat with remaining dough and filling.
arrange shaped cookies on the prepared cookie sheets. bake cookies for 20 minutes. let cool and dust with powdered sugar. enjoy!