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.