We just recently celebrated the Jewish holiday of Purim. This means, ‘Tis the season for hamantaschen. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this triangular treat, it’s a pastry made especially for this holiday. In short, Purim is the holiday that celebrates Queen Esther saving the Jews from being killed by the Evil Haman. (This is a grossly abbreviated explanation.) Think of it as sort of a cross between Halloween and Mardi Gras. ‘Nuf said.
There are zillions of recipes out there for hamantaschen. I’ve tried quite a few, and the one dough recipe I keep coming back to comes from The Book of Jewish Entertaining by Gil Marks. Easy, and bombproof. I use that dough recipe, but I do my own thing with the fillings. I don’t particularly like the traditional prune or poppyseed fillings, so I use jams. Sure, I use strawberry and apricot, but have you ever had them with marionberry jam? Or ollalieberry jam? I’ve even made them with rose petal jelly. There is something magical about this dough and various types of jam or jelly.
The fun bit, especially if you like playing with your food like I do, is in putting them together. Here’s what I use:
Then you roll the dough out to about 1/4″ thickness. Be sure to use enough flour on your work surface and rolling pin or you’ll have a nightmarishly sticky mess.
I use an old plastic cup to cut the dough into circles. I think it was from Burger King from about 1993.
Here are some of the jams/jellies I like to use. Clearly I’m indecisive…
Next, I add a dollop of jam in the middle of each dough circle. If you use too much jam, it will sploosh out of your cookie. Sometimes it splooshes out just to be annoying. This is why parchment paper was invented.
Then comes the really fun part: attempting to form triangles. Note that this isn’t as easy as you’d think.
According to Tori Avey, whose blog is The Shiksa in the Kitchen, there’s a method of folding over the dough so that your hamantaschen will be perfect every time. I’ll have to investigate it further and try it next year. This year (and every year thus far), I’ve just pinched the corners together. They’re never perfect. I just say that they have “personality.” (I use that excuse with my quilts too.)
Repeat this process for each cookie. Put them on parchment-lined baking sheets. I can’t stress this enough. It will save you hours of scraping dried-on jam off your baking sheets.
Here’s what perfect hamantaschen are supposed to look like. Note that these were baked by my friend, Cheryl Anton. Mine have NEVER looked like this.
Here’s what mine looked like. They bear a striking resemblance to the sorting hat from Harry Potter. Nobody complained.
In my house, these cookies aren’t merely consumed, they are practically inhaled. They’re worse than potato chips; you can’t eat just one. Or three. I don’t know what it is about these cookies that make them so addictive (I don’t put crack in them, really I don’t), but they disappear almost as fast as I can make them. This year, my younger daughter asked me to make 5 batches of dough. So I did. Oof.
I promised my elder daughter that I’d make her a batch when she’s home over Spring Break. Her favorite version contains Bing cherry jam and mini chocolate chips.
I’m not going to check my cholesterol or get on the scale any time soon.