Makrouta (maqrouta or ma’arouta) is a traditional Palestinian pinwheel cookie that is as tasty as it is elegant. A date paste filling scented with cardamom, cinnamon and anise is swirled through a flaky and rich cookie crust resulting in the perfect combination of rich, flaky, spice scented and addictive! All the adjectives that you want in a cookie!
Dates happen to be the centerpiece in many Palestinian cookies and baked goods, think maamoul, bracelet cookies -or kaek asawer-, mabroosheh, date bread rings and these makrouta cookies, just to name a few. The dates were traditionally used as a natural and healthy way to add sweetness, a contrast in texture, and a medium to infuse with spices and aromatic seeds. In makrouta, the dough and the filling are both scented with spices and ground seeds giving makrouta layers of flavors that will make stopping at one simply impossible!
If you are still trying to decipher the name, allow me to help you out. The name Makrouta actually comes from the Arabic verb karata which means cut from the edges. If you scroll down to the step by step pictures you will understand the connection between the name and the preparation technique 🙂
I got this recipe from my wonderfully talented friend, Banan Gharaibeh. She brought some to the (April is for Arab Food) gathering in Amman and was kind enough to give me the recipe with the permission to publish it.
The recipe as listed below (the way that I got it from Banan) makes a huge amount of Makrouta, you can half or quarter the recipe. But do keep in mind that if you decide to make the full batch, the elegant Makrouta cookies make a perfect gift for friends, family or school teachers. They also last for weeks in great condition if kept them in an airtight container in a cool place.
Palestinian Makrouta (Date pin wheel cookies)
4 cups whole wheat flour
5 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons ground anise
1 tablespoon ground fennel seeds
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground mahlab
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon nigella seeds
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup olive oil
1 cup melted ghee or melted butter
For kneading the dough
1 to 1.5 cups warm water
2 kg date paste
2 tablespoons melted ghee (this helps the filling stay soft)
2 tablespoon anise seeds
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
- In a bowl mix all of the dough ingredients. Start by adding both types of flour , spices, seeds and baking soda.Mix to combine Then add the oil, butter/ghee and rub them into the flour mix with your finger tips till they are completely absorbed into the mix and it resembles wet sand.
- Cover and leave over night
This is to allow the flour to completely soak up the oil and flavors from the spices. You can do this step up to a week in advance
- Prepare the filling: knead the date paste with all the filling ingredients till smooth and homogeneous
- On the day you decide to make the cookies, add the water to the flour mix. Start with 1 cup of water and slowly add more. You will know you have added enough when you take a small piece of dough, roll it into a thick rope then turn it into a loop without it cracking or falling apart.
You can also tell that you need to add more water if you roll out the dough and it cracks in the following steps
5. divide the dough into quarters
6. Spread a sheet of parchment or silicon mat or nylon sheet on your surface and start by rolling one quarter of the dough into a rough rectangular shape till it is 3 mm thick.
7. On another silicon mat, roll out 1/4 of the date filling till it is roughly the same shape, size and thickness.I find it easier to roll the date filling between two parchment sheets/ silicon mats
8. Remove the top parchment/silicon mat and use the bottom one to flip the date rectangle over the dough one
9. Use a knife to trim the edges
10. Start rolling the dough from the short end
11. after 4 to 5 turns cut the roll
12. Cut the roll into 2 cm slices
13. to give the Makrouta it is distinctive shape, you can use a knife or an egg slicer or avocado slicer. You can do it horizontally or diagonally or not do it at all 🙂
14. Arrange the pieces on a parchment lined baking pan and bake at 180 C for 20 to 25 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown
15.Place under the broiler till the tops are golden
16. allow to cool for 5 to 10 minute on the pan then transfer to a wire rack till it cools completely and store in an air tight container
If your cookies crack after baking, this is due to the dough being too dry, you should add more water in the kneading step
You can tell before getting to the baking stage as the dough will crack when you roll it in step 6