Ramadan Recipe: Forget the figs, try Date Newtons
Like a ma’amoul cookie, this sweet treat is a quick hit from the kitchen.
The first time I tried a ma’amoul cookie, I fell immediately in love. (With the cookie, of course.)
There was something very familiar about the taste, something I remembered from childhood. Then it struck me. My favorite cookie growing up was a Fig Newton, which was a sugar cookie, wrapped around an inner layer of minced fig. The idea for a ma’amoul was the same, except the inside layer was minced dates.
Living in a land of dates, I decided to tweak a recipe I found online for homemade fig newtons, and here is what I came up with. Please note: a ma’amoul recipe is much more elaborate, with butter and rose water added to the dough, and generally shaped in beautiful molds. If that’s the flavor and look you remember from childhood, feel free to tweak to your own tastes.
¾ cup all-purpose white flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup butter, unsalted
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp vanilla
½ cup brown sugar
Package of prepared minced dates
- Put softened (but not melted) butter and brown sugar into bowl of a stand mixer, and mix until fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla until combined.
- In a separate bowl, add both types of flour, the salt and the baking soda, then the spices, and stir with a fork to blend.
- Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients one ½ cup at a time and mix until combined.
- Remove the dough from the mixer and form into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least an hour.
- A time saving tip is to use pre-chopped and minced dates, which you can find in the dried fruit aisle. If none is available, you can simply make your own date paste with a food processor. (But be sure to remove the pits.)
- 6. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Line a large cookie sheet with baking or parchment paper.
- Take out cookie dough, and dust your counter with flour. Divide the dough into four equal portions and with a flour covered rolling pin, roll out the dough into a long rectangle, about 4 inches wide, 10-12 inches long, and ¼ inch thick. Make sure there is enough dusted flour on the counter that the dough doesn’t stick to the counter. If your date mixture is dry enough, pinch off sections in your hand and form the filling with your hands into rectangles of 1 inch wide and ¼ inch thick and place in the center of the rolled-out dough. Then pull the flaps of the dough to cover the date interior and place each completed roll onto the cookie sheet, with the seam at the bottom.
- Bake in 350 degrees F oven for 20 minutes, then set oven to broil and bake an additional 2 minutes until brown.
- Remove from oven and while the dough is still warm, cut the logs into 1-inch long cookies.
- Allow cookies to cool fully to retain moisture, but be prepared to lose a few cookies if you have family members who claim to be doing “quality control.”