Purim cookies: Memulah

Purim cookies: Memulah

by Jacoba Spijker-Kort

On the fourteenth day of the month Adar, mostly in March, we celebrate the feast of Purim. In the synagogue we read the scroll of Ester (megilat Ester) and make a lot of noise when the name of Haman is called. It’s a habit to give each other eatable gifts like Hamanears, Hamantashen and sweet filled pastries. The Hamanears are ears like fritted cookies, dipped in sirup. The Hamantashen are three-cornered open pastries with a poppy seed filling.  They look like the hats, worn in Persia during the Babylonian exile in the time of Ester. Or as Ashkenazim explane; the shape is like Haman pockets stuffed with bribe money.

 Memulah means filled in Hebrew. More of them you could call m’moelot. It’s an upside down baked ball with a walnut- or date-  or pistachio-filling. The shape is one between cooky and pastry. They are not very sweet and are like the Maamoul. Sephardic Jews made them in Southern Europe and in Morocco.

Recipe for Memulah, with 2 kinds of fillings
Makes about 30-35 cookies

Ingredients for the dough:
250 g. / 8 ounces all-purpose flour
2 tbsp fine sugar
140 g. / 4 ounces unsalted butter
1 tsp rosewater
1 pinch of salt
2 tbsp milk or more if needed

Ingredients walnut filling:
100 g. / 3 ½  ounces ground walnuts
3 tbsp finely ground cane sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1-2 tsp amaretto (almond liquer)
1-2 tbsp water

Ingredients date filling:
150 g pitted dried dates, chopped, preferably a soft kind
3-4 tbsp boiled water or as needed

Mix for the dough the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl or foodprocessor. Than work through the butter (I grated coarsely the cold butter with a shredder). In a large  bowl rubbing with your fingers until fine crumbs form. Sprinkle over the rosewater and the milk. Toss and mix gently until a dough forms. Add more milk if necessary, but let it not become sticky. Divide in 2 parts and pull off small pieces to make balls of walnut size.

Mix well all the ingredients for the walnut filling till a thick mixture. (by the foodprocessor). And separately put the dates into a foodprocessor with the water and process to blend all the ingredients for the date filling to a soft paste and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325° F / 160º C. and cover a baking tray with baking sheet.

Take a dough ball, press into the center between your thumps and fingers. Rotate to create a well with thin sides. Add a teaspoon of filling and pinch the open edges of dough together to seal. Arrange the filled balls seam-side down on the baking sheet 1 inch / 2,5 cm apart. Press the balls a little. Make a pattern on the upside with a tweezer or a fork. Bake for 20-30 minutes in the preheated oven. Don’t let them get brown. The cookies shall be soft and light of colour, almost white. Keep them on the sheet till cooled down. Optional: Dust them with ground sugar.

Chag Sameach and Happy Purim!