Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook
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Date or Nut-Filled Pastries
Popular in Syria and Saudi Arabia, these stuffed pastries are often served at 'Id celebrations. This recipe makes about 30, and is easily doubled.
Total time: 3-½+ hours
Cooking time: 1-½ hours
Cooling: 2+ hours
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
½ lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 tbsp. rose or orange flower water
¼ cup milk
Date filling
1 lb. pitted and chopped dates
½-1 cup water
Nut filling
2 cups finely chopped walnuts, almonds or pistachios
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp. rosewater or cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and butter, working them together with your fingers. Add the flower water and the milk, then mix and knead the dough until it is soft and pliable. Let the dough rest for a half-hour.

To make date filling, put the dates and water in a saucepan; if the dates are very dry, more water will be needed. Heat until it bubbles, then lower the heat and simmer until the dates disintegrate and form a solid mass. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

For nut filling, combine the chopped nuts and sugar. Use rosewater with almonds or pistachios, and cinnamon with walnuts.

Roll a walnut-sized lump of dough into a ball. Flatten the ball in the palm of your hand. Fill the center of the patty with about 2 teaspoons of filling. Bring up the edges of the patty, poke down the filling, and pinch and smooth over the top to form a seamless ball again. Another traditional shape is the crescent, formed by folding the patty in half and pinching the edges to close it.

Put the mamoul, smoothest side up, onto a large baking sheet. Flatten lightly, and make a pleasing pattern with a nut pick or fork. Bake for about 20 minutes; remove the mamoul from the oven before they begin to turn brown. Cool completely on a wire rack, then roll in confectioner's sugar. Store in an airtight container.