Assorted maamouls

Assorted maamouls

Every year my parents come to visit my brother and I here in Montreal. They usually come in the summer when it’s nice and warm and they always bring a lot of goodies with them. This year however, they just arrived a couple of days ago with a suitcase full of goodies! Among them is a special Easter treat that I particularly love: maamouls. Maamouls are shortbread cookies that are available year-round but that are traditionally consumed at Easter. Now I know that Easter was a couple of weeks ago but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get my hands on some. You can definitely find them in all Middle-Eastern stores – especially here in Montreal where everything Lebanese can easily be found – but the ones that come from Lebanon are really in a league of their own. This is especially true about the ones my mom just brought me which are made by one of her closest friends and one of Lebanon’s top caterers, Nazira. Maamouls are made using intricately decorative and beautiful wood molds and are stuffed with a mixture of either pistachios, walnuts or dates. Each stuffing has its own easily-recognizable traditional shape: oval for pistachios, round for walnuts and donut-shaped (or flattened circle) for dates. So, you don’t actually need to take a bite of each to find out what the filling is unfortunately! 🙂 The date ones are also recognizable since they are the only ones that don’t get covered with a dusting of icing sugar (since the filling is already sweet enough). Even though I love baking, I have never actually made maamoul myself. No one in Lebanon bothers making them at home anymore since they are time consuming and you can find such top quality ones on the market. However, if you are tempted to make them, here are a few recipes from some blogger friends of mine:

Anissa Helou

Dirty Kitchen Secrets

Christelle is Flabbergasting

Assorted Lebanese baklawa

Assorted Lebanese baklawa arranged like jewels in their box

Also among the goodies my mom brought me was another one of my favourites, a big box filled with assorted Lebanese baklava. Baklawa, baklawa fingers, basma, borma, kol wa shkor, bukaj (parcel), ballorieh, all made with pistachios, cashews or pine nuts and all arranged like jewels in this traditional tin box. Lebanese baklawa are different from the Greek ones you might be used to. They are made much smaller, are more delicate, drier and are moistened with sugar syrup instead of honey. The pistachio bormas used to be my favourites when I was younger because of the crunchy exterior and pistachio filling (pistachios are my favourite nut!) but I now have a particular fondness for all the pine nut ones which I find richer and more buttery. You may think they all taste the same since they are all basically made with the same ingredients – nut filling and filo dough – but you would be mistaken. They all taste very differently from one another but one thing’s for sure: they are all absolutely delicious! For more details on all the assorted baklawa, check the Al Bohsali website, the store from which mine come.

Apricot sablés

Apricot sablés (shortbread cookies)

Last and certainly not least among all the goodies brought back, are my mother’s sablés (little shortbread cookies)! My mom makes the best sablés in the world! There, I said it! And no matter where I’ve traveled in the world, I’ve never found any that taste quite as good as hers. Ok, so nostalgia may be playing some part in this but this statement has also been made by others so I choose to believe that it must be true then. I have school friends whom I’ve reconnected with 20 years later and the first thing they reminisce about are my mom’s sablés! Whenever she comes to visit, my mom always brings a box full of chocolate and jam sablés for my brother and I. Her sablé dough is flaky and buttery and the chocolate filling (yum!) is luscious and rich. They are absolutely addictive (I bet you you can’t stop at one!) They make the perfect snack with your afternoon latté but have also been known to make an appearance for breakfast with my morning latté! I remember standing in the kitchen with her when I was little and making tray after tray of the little shells that I would then stack neatly onto a tray to let cool. I also remember filling hundreds of these with apricot jam or chocolate and taste testing as I went along, for quality purposes of course! Here’s the recipe as dictated by my mom:

chocolate and apricot sablés

My mom's chocolate and apricot sablés (in my lovely Anthropologie bowls!)

Apricot and chocolate sablés


For the vanilla dough: (makes about 50 finished 1″ sablés, or 50 shells)

  • 200 gr. flour
  • 100 gr. butter at room temperature
  • 50 gr. of icing sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Vanilla extract

For the chocolate dough: (makes about 50 finished 1″ sablés, or 50 shells)

  • 150 gr. flour
  • 100 gr. butter at room temperature
  • 50 gr. of icing sugar
  • 50 gr. Dutch process cocoa
  • 1 egg
  • Vanilla extract

For the jam filling:

  • Apricot jam

For the chocolate filling:

  • Good quality dark melted chocolate (Callebaut, Valhrona, etc.)


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix all dough ingredients together
  3. Roll the dough as thin as you can (about 1/8″) on your counter top and cut out circles with your cookie cutter
  4. Put the cut circles on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and bake until the cookies turn golden brown
  5. Place the cookie halves on a cooling rack and let them cool completely
  6. While they’re cooling, melt the chocolate in a double boiler over low heat until it’s all melted. Be careful not to let any water in the chocolate or it will seize
  7. Once they’re cooled, fill the vanilla halves with apricot jam and the chocolate ones with melted chocolate. Also top the chocolate ones with melted chocolate for a double chocolate effect!

Note: Store the unfilled sablés halves in an air tight container and fill them up as needed. The filled sablés also freeze very well, just take them out of the freezer a few minutes before consuming them.

Let me know if you make them, I’d love to hear how they turn out, so would my mom, who is sitting right next to me as I write this!

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