These, my friends, are little bites of Armenian... Cookie... Heaven...
I guess, technically, they are Middle-Eastern cookies, but the first one I ever had came from an Armenian bakery in Burbank, CA... So I call them Armenian :) I kinda made this recipe up. I have The Complete Armenian Cookbook by Alice Bezjian, which is an awesome book (I found my old, tattered copy on Amazon) with tons of recipes that my husband and his family are fond of, plus others from around the world, from Lasagna to Chile Relenos. I used her recipe along with some others I found on the internet and mixed 'em all up to make my version.
Anyways, these are called ma'amouls. It's a shortbread like dough which you stuff with usually a pistachio, walnut or date filling. The ones I had in Burbank had dates and pistachios, but when I was trying to figure out the fruit in the filling I thought it was figs, so that's what I made these with. Next time, because there will be plenty of next times, I will try the dates and tell you which one tastes better.
So, you make your shortbread. I used the basic 1 cup butter, 1/2 cup sugar & 2 cups flour, but then instead of vanilla, use orange flower water. I know it sounds weird, but that's what makes these taste Armenian! Then while you are chilling the dough, boil about 1 cup figs (or dates) with 1/2 water and 1/2 sugar + a splash of orange flower water. Simmer it until almost all the water is out, squishing the figs with your spoon. After that, blend the fig stuff with 1 cup of shelled pistachios in a food processor until it looks like this...
Interesting, huh? I promise, it tastes very yummy. Get your dough out of the fridge and roll walnut size pieces into a ball, poke a hole almost all the way through with your finger, and fill with a small amount of the filling. Pinch the dough back up and then shape into little flattened logs. Once you have a pan ready, PUT IT IN THE FRIDGE while you get the other pan ready. They need to firm up before baking or else they'll melt in the oven. After chilled for about 10 minutes (the time it takes to make the other pan) bake in a 350 degree oven for 13-17 minutes, just until the bottoms are golden brown. The tops won't get much color, so check the bottoms.
Cool on a cookie rack and then sprinkle with powdered sugar.