This cookie originated in Lebanon and is popular throughout the Middle East today. Memories of mixing the dough, forming the crusts, filling the molds or making free-form cookies by hand, and most of all, savoring the textures and flavors and discovering a different filling in each cookie, are a treasured part of life for many Middle Easterners. While families tend keep a supply on hand all year to serve guests, people of various faiths also associate these cookies with special celebrations.
Muslims eat ma’amoul at night during Ramadan or at the feast marking the end of Ramadan.
Jews serve ma’amoul for Hanukkah, Rosh Hashana and Purim. During Purim, they consider the cookies’ filling to symbolize the secret Queen Esther kept from the king (her Jewishness).
Christians prepare ma’amoul at Easter time; some seeing the sugarless crust as representing Jesus’ tomb and the sweet filling representing the surprise and joy of his resurrection.
Share some ma’amoul with your family this Thanksgiving by baking them yourself. While you enjoy them, take time to pray for those who lack ovens in which to bake ma’amoul because of regional upheaval, for those who have homes but don’t know Christ, and for those whose hearts need to be filled with the sweet joy of the one true Savior.
These traditional buttery holiday cookies are filled with an earthy walnut or date filling and then dusted with confectioners’ sugar.