Mahmoul Cookies, Traditional Syrian Sweets

Published April 5, 2018

Mahmoul cookies are those traditional Syrian sweets made famous in Aleppo and throughout the Middle East! These Aleppo Filled Cookies, were a great favorite in our family, especially at this time of year. Sitto used these Mahmoul molds throughout her life and now they hang in my kitchen as a reminder of the incredible baking that #Aleppo’s cooks produced. In fact, growing up so fortunate as to be a child of #Syrian heritage, I later learned how famous the cuisine of Aleppo really is!

Each grandmother, “Sitto” in #Arabic, would teach the younger ones how to make these sweets, proudly pulling out kitchen tools that had been handed down over generations. I don’t know if the youngsters of today realize it yet, but they have quite a bit of history to be handed down to them.

I watched as Sitto made what looked like enormous amounts of dough, kneading it and letting it rest, as the kitchen filled with the wonderful aroma of Mahlab spice for these cookies. They were traditionally baked at Easter to symbolize the resurrection.

After the dough was shaped into a ball, her thumb would make an indentation in it as she turned the ball of dough, slowly forming it into a hollow egg shape. Then they were filled with finely chopped walnuts or pistachios and sealed. I remember that she’d take the “egg” of dough and place it into the mold and pat it gently with her palm, allowing the design to imprint the dough. She’d turn the mold over onto her baking tray and (wow!) there was the Mahmoul beautifully imprinted and ready for baking. Each mold had a different design, allowing for the powdered sugar dusting to cling after baking. This wonderful old recipe is on page 142 of Sitto’s Kitchen II Cookbook along with many other traditional dishes.