National Pistachio Day
Posted on 26 February 2017
After a short hiatus to tend to romantics and sweet hearts everywhere, we continue our series of blog posts that explore the tasty centers of some of our confections. Today, we celebrate National Pistachio Day by shining the spotlight on one of our most unique confections: the Pistachio Date Butter Cup. This characteristically Middle Eastern flavor pairing also yields a breath-taking visual, as the vibrant green of the pistachio butter plays against the rich brown of the pureed dates. The inspiration for this cup is delicious treat: ma’amoul.
Ma’amoul is a popular Middle Eastern cookie. These cookies are made using semolina instead of flour, and are either shaped by hand and sealed with a crimping tool, or shaped using a specially-designed decorative wooden spoon. There are typically three versions of these cookies: filled with dates, filled with ground walnuts, or filled with ground pistachio, commonly flavored with either rose or orange blossom water. The shape of the cookie can correspond to the type of filling.
I grew up eating these insanely delicious cookies. Something about the sweet crumbly cookie giving way to these savory, textured fillings always enticed me. While I enjoy them all, my favorite has always been the date ma’amoul. My mom’s cousin, Esma (who brought me the figs mentioned in the post about the Sesame Fig Cup) would make tons of these cookies and always set some aside just for me. If there were too many (is that such a thing?) I would store them in my freezer and microwave a couple of them as needed to enjoy with my tea or whiskey.
A couple of years ago my cousin Jack and I solicited her to show us how to make them. We spent the afternoon at her house doing our best to shape these wonderful desserts. Esma was very patient but it was clear we had a long way to go before coming close to the perfect uniformity of her cookies. Our parting gifts included a crimper, armfuls of cookies, and some wonderful memories.
The Pistachio Date cup is a direct tribute to ma’amoul. In this confection, dates are blended with a touch of rosewater and layered with a savory, creamy blend of vibrantly green pistachio butter. This confection mirrors the sweet and savory qualities of the ma’amoul desserts I’ve enjoyed with abandon.