Some say ma'amoul, a popular Middle Eastern cookie stuffed with date puree, is a reminder that at the end of the fasting period, there's a sweet reward. Stamped with geometric designs, they make beautiful edible gifts.
Dough: In a small bowl, stir yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar into warm water; let stand until bubbly, about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together flours, mahleb, salt, mastic, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Gently mix in clarified butter until it is absorbed. In a small bowl, stir together yeast mixture and milk. Drizzle over flour mixture; using your hands or a rubber spatula, knead just until dough comes together and is moist but not wet. Cover; let stand at room temperature 2 hours.
Filling: Meanwhile, pulse dates, butter, water, sugar, cinnamon, mahleb, and anise seeds in a food processor until a smooth paste forms. Cover and let stand until dough has rested.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, scoop 1 heaping tablespoon of dough; roll into a ball. Press dough in the palm of your hand to form a well in the center. Place 1 scant teaspoon of filling in well. Pull up sides of dough to enclose, adding more dough if necessary. Firmly press dough into a ma'amoul mold. Invert mold; tap to release dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing about 1 inch apart. Refrigerate about 1 hour.
Bake until beginning to turn golden around edges, 14 to 17 minutes. Transfer sheets to a wire rack; let cool completely.