Lebanese Ma’moul Molds

It seemed as though in recent years there wasn’t a ma’moul mold to be found anywhere around here. Granted, ma’moul has never been as prominent on our holiday cookie plate as it could have been, but still, the molds are traditional Lebanese and special. Even if we weren’t making the cookies that often, we did have molds.

I’m blaming their disappearance on the move. My mother is blaming their disappearance . . . on me. All suspicion was cast in my direction when I pulled out a bag of no fewer than 10 molds to make ma’moul for you the other day. That’s where they’ve all gone, she said, as though it’s been my guarded secret to hold her ma’moul molds hostage in a green plastic bag in her basement.

In fact, I started collecting the beautiful, uniquely shaped wooden forms last year when I went to Lebanon. When we were down to the last few hours of our visit and I still had no molds, our driver (you have to have one there) screeched down a narrow street in some kind of market that I couldn’t believe he hadn’t taken us to yet, and blocked honking traffic while I ran into a shop and bought several.

Then I was talking ma’moul with Aunt Louise earlier this year and she reached into her basement refrigerator (she keeps them chilled!) and pulled out an unbelievable bag filled with molds, some of which had been my Aunt Hilda’s. Hilda was the ma’moul baker in the family, and Louise was her best friend, so it was fitting Louise saved the molds when Hilda passed away. Louise marked Hilda’s with a heart and an “H” so she’d know them. She put several in another bag and gave them to me. How special is that?!

So my trove was not built on ma’moul molds of my mother’s that I silently and illicitly hoarded. I have no idea where those are, and since we didn’t mark them with hearts or initials, she’s pretty sure I have no proof that most of mine aren’t actually hers. So that’s that.

Oh—to the point, you want to know what ma’moul molds are? These carved wooden, hand-held molds are for shaping and forming stuffed Lebanese butter cookies. There are all kinds of designs and sizes which are meant to indicate the different types of fillings. Walnuts, pistachios, dates—that’s what you’ll find tucked inside an incredibly tender, meltingly good butter crust snowed over with confectioner’s sugar.

You can find m’amoul molds for the cookies we’re making this week (stay tuned for the recipe and photos!) at Middle Eastern specialty shops (where do you get yours? let us know!), and online here and here (If you buy from Dayna’s it’s best to buy a few things to offset the shipping prices). You can also get some in my secret hiding places at my mother’s house, if you can find them.

 

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17 Responses to Lebanese Ma’moul Molds

  1. Susan says:

    These look just like Chinese mooncake molds!

  2. Stephen says:

    Maureen,
    Sounds like the same discussions we all have about who has what out of moms kitchen. Very nice post. Yes there is nothing more special than a mold passed down from one to another and put to good use. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Wendy says:

    PS – Maureen, would you be willing to share your family recipe for ma’amoul? (So many different spellings online!) I found this informative video w/a recipe for how to make them: http://www.dedemed.com/mediterranean/maamoul-recipe-maamoul

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart and soul and all they embrace when you write about food.

  4. Mimi Saad James says:

    How long have I been Lebanese? “50-something years” and I never knew there was such a thing as M’amoul molds! That’s because our “Aunt Laura,” (said with a heavy Arabic accent – like she spoke) was the M’amoul maker in our family. She never shared that little tidbit. No one was allowed in the kitchen when she was baking. She simply presented beautiful tins of freshly-baked date-filled M’moul on special ocassions. It never occured to me to ask how she got them into perfectly “molded” shapes.

  5. Carlos Sandino says:

    Thank you, Maureen. Reading you is always a pleasure.
    Your post made me realize that I need to buy a new set of molds! The wood in my old molds has gotten kind of frayed, or tattered, so the ma’amoul will stick to the inside of the mold and just won’t come out. It is so frustrating!
    Last year I almost unwillingly or accidentally bought some plastic molds, back in Lebanon. It was not Easter nor ma’amoul season, so wooden molds weren’t readily available at the supermarket. All they had left were plastic molds. One single mold has different and strange shapes for ma’amoul that I’m not familiar with, and they’re not as pretty as the wooden ones, but they will unmold the ma’amoul easily.
    I would really like to find a nice, traditional wooden set that will actually work. Thanks for your advise on where to buy them. The links are most appreciated!

    • Susan says:

      Carlos, have you tried lining the mold lightly with cornstarch or powdered sugar, or a mixture of, before filling? It really facillitates the release with Chinese mooncake molds, assuming that the damage you describe is not too far gone.

      • jamil says:

        Hello,
        My mom lines the mold with plastic wrap, the thin film allows the design to show and prevent the ma’moul from sticking. But you have to press well.
        j
        PS I am interested on how to freeze the ma’moul. Before baking?

        • Maureen Abood says:

          Hi Jamil–great tip, thank you! I would freeze them unbaked on sheet pans, then once frozen gather them up into an airtight container and freeze that way, so that they are solid before they’re packed together.

          • Carlos Sandino says:

            Thank you Susan, Jamil and Maureen. It is so great to be able to read your stories and learn from your tips. It motivates me to cook more and enjoy Lebanese food even more. Happy holidays!

  6. Debbie says:

    I really hope to see the cookies and recipe soon❤️

  7. Diane Nassir (my maternal grandmother was an Abood (Jamileh) from Ammun Leb. says:

    Maureen, I NEVER EVER knew this–never heard of ma’moul molds–my Grandmother Nassir, born in Lebanon, made perfect ma’moul for every New Year’s—each one of every batch was perfect and every year’s batch looked just like every one of the previous years! I marveled at this–makes me smile just to think of it–thank you for sharing our grandmothers’ and aunts’ secret with us!!!

  8. Love this….especially our Lebanese friends and family that kept the molds a secret from the rest of their family…what a hoot!! I have two molds just like the two on the right of your first picture. .
    Love that u have soooo many. Because mine r like yours, does that mean mine will taste like yours??

  9. Melissa Zerka says:

    Love the story!! Excited to see the recipe and pictures soon.

    Take Care
    Melissa

 

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