For Dough: Melt the butter and let it cool to room temperature. Add to the semolina and mix thoroughly. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.
Mix together 1/2 cup warm water, yeast and sugar in a measuring cup. Cover and set aside in a warm place for about 5 minutes.
Add yeast mixture to semolina, along with nutmeg, gum Arabic, optional mahlab and 1/2 cup room-temperature water. Knead by hand until thoroughly mixed.
For Filling: Mix dates with olive oil and cinnamon. Form date mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls and roll into 4-inch logs.
To Assemble: Position a rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 cookie sheets.
Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls, then roll into 4-inch logs. Flatten dough with your fingers and place a date strip in the center. Crimp edges of dough to seal date mixture inside. Shape dough into a ring and crimp ends together. Using a fork or wooden skewer, indent surface of cookie, taking care not to puncture dough.
Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to racks to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar.
NOTE: Mahlab and gum Arabic are available at Middle Eastern stores.
207 calories, 7 grams fat, 35 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams proteinper serving. This recipe is low in sodium.
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