Maamoul Mad Bil Ashta! Popular throughout Lebanon and a personal favorite - semolina-butter bars filled with clotted cream, crunchy on the outside with a creamy white filling on the inside - they have a wonderful distinct orange blossom flavor with a dense texture!
I love sweets, but these bars are definitely on the top list of my favorite oriental desserts! As you know I do not reside in Lebanon, so I miss so many foods from home. In Lebanon, people do not typically prepare maamoul mad. Almost all local sweet shops sell these treats. One of the things that I have stuck to making during Ramadan are these heavenly bars. They are decadent and they make your kitchen smell wonderful, and a great dessert on your holiday table!
Make these bars and I promise they won't last long! You won't be able to resist! Grab your forks and let us dig in!
Orange blossom water, rose water and mastic gum are essential ingredients in a Lebanese and Middle Eastern pantry. If you are looking forward to making Lebanese and Middle Eastern sweets, I advice you to keep them on hand! They give oriental desserts the unique deep flavor and the Middle Eastern stamp!
Mastic gum! Using a mortal and pestle, crush the mastic gum with a pinch of sugar!
Now let's get started!
To prepare the clotted cream(ashta) : Place the milk, farina, cornstarch, mastic gum (if used) and sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, whisk constantly to prevent the mixture from sticking. Continue whisking until the mixture boils and thickens (it should have the consistency of custard). Add the orange blossom water. Stir and set aside to cool down completely. This will be the cream filling!
Place the farina, flour, baking soda, semolina, mahlab (if used) and sugar in a large bowl. Melt the butter over low heat and add to the bowl mixture. Stir in oil, milk and orange blossom water. Knead well until the dough comes together into a sticky dough.
For the dough:
- 2cups farina (cream of wheat) / the very fine semolina (in Arabic theen farkha)
- 1 cup semolina
- 2 cups flour
- 1 ½ cups icing sugar (powdered sugar)
- ½ cup/ 1 stick butter
- ¾ canola oil
- ½ cup milk
- 1/3 cup orange blossom water (a clear and fragrant water distilled from blossom flowers of Seville orange) can be found at Middle Eastern specialty stores
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon powdered mahlab, optional ( an aromatic white spice used in the Middle East for baked goods. Can be found at Middle Eastern specialty stores)
For the clotted cream (ashta):
- 3 cups milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons farina (cream of wheat)
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon orange blossom water
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- mastic gum, optional
- For the clotted cream (ashta):
- Place the milk, farina, cornstarch, mastic gum (if used) and sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, whisk constantly to prevent the mixture from sticking.
- Continue whisking until the mixture boils and thickens (it should have the consistency of custard).
- Add the orange blossom water. Stir and set aside to cool down completely.
For the dough:
- Place the farina, flour, baking soda, semolina, mahlab (if used) and sugar in a large bowl.
- Melt the butter over low heat and add to the bowl mixture. Stir in oil, milk and orange blossom water. Knead the sticky dough well.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400°F. Place a rack in the center of the oven.
- Lightly grease a 40cm/ 16 inches round cake tin.
- Divide the dough into two equal portions. With the palm of your hands spread one of the dough evenly over the greased cake tin, fully covering it.
- Evenly spread the clotted cream over it.
- Place a large sheet of wax paper on a countertop and put the second dough in the center of the sheet.
- Cover with another piece of wax paper. Roll the dough to a circle about 40cm/16 inches in diameters.
- Peel off the top paper. Use the lower sheet to help you transfer the dough and invert it over the clotted cream.
- Bake until well browned for about 20-25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven. Allow to cool down completely.
- With a pairing knife, score into medium-sized squares. Enjoy!
Looking for another scrumptious maamoul recipe, check our Pistachio Maamoul
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