Hamantashen who? It seems no one can even agree on the correct spelling. So, before we get started on these sweet three cornered pastries-let's kibbitz a bit. Hamantashen (which in Yiddish means-Haman's pocket's) are eaten traditionally during the Jewish festival of Purim, which takes place in early March. The original story took place over 2500 years ago in Persia when King Ahasuerus reigned, Haman was his evil advisor, the beautiful, and smart Esther, and her Uncle Mordechai helped right the kingdom and everyone joined together to celebrate.
The Book of Esther is a story where good triumphs over evil and is celebrated with stories, food, drink and carnivals. Well, that's it in a nutshell. As children we used to look at it as a time to dress up in costume, the girls dressing as Queen Esther and the boys were often the evil Haman, the good Mordechai, or King Ahasuerus. We always attended the Temple carnival where we won goldfish as prizes. (Oy! the poor goldfish.) My children continued the tradition until I finally put my foot down and told them they couldn't bring home any more goldfish! The evening of Purim found us sitting through the Purim spiel where the Rabbis and staff enacted the story of Purim in a parody kind of way, the WHOLE megillah was read, and we beat on the floor and spun our greggors whenever the bad Haman's name was mentioned. Today we still do the same and it is also customary in some parts, to give gifts of fruit and cookies or nuts, and also to give to charity.The eating of hamantashen are all part of the fun. Purim is a joyous holiday and it is intended to be celebrated as such. So forget all your tsuris!
Now to the hamantashen...I am not a maven when it comes to this delicacy. Personally, I think someone took a little joy out of Purim when some Bubbe somewhere decided that we should turn circles into triangles, all to symbolize a very evil man's hat. Or pocket. That has even yet to be decided. I always wonder why there is a circle cookie cutter, but not a triangle? You see I was never very good at geometry, part of the problem maybe being that I was a good Jewish girl, being taught at an Irish Catholic high school, and the Brother teaching me had a French surname. It was also rumored that he couldn't see, or hear and maybe tippled from the bottle a little too often. In any case, I guess he was very kind to me, because somehow I did pass geometry and it may have involved looking at my neighbor's paper. But I did mention that the Brother couldn't see...
Remembering that I write this blog (mostly for my children), I felt the need to put a hamantashen recipe on it. In preschool the kids would make their own hamantashen with refrigerated sugar cookie dough. They weren't bad. I, however, would try my version at home and often end up with pan that looked like this. What a shanda.
|Photograph taken from kids on the internet.|
That is evidenced here.
|Just because you know how to make an angle DOESN'T mean you can.|
|These are definitely an oil based dough. You can tell because they are schmussed together.|
So feeling such naches under my belt, I decided to continue the creative process and came up with this sweet, not so little, cinnamon type cream cheese filled hamantaschen. Perfect with that cup of tea, I'm getting ready to swill; or your favorite latte. Both are pretty, pretty good. Unless you want traditional, in which case, any jam filling will work with either dough. And don't eat too many or you might become a bit zaftig!
Now back to technique. I personally preferred rolling the dough and cutting it into rounds with my favorite blue glass. I found that so much easier than making golf ball sized balls and then schmussing them down to make a round. Then I had to shmutz them together to make triangles. Way to much schmussing and shmutzing in my opinion. And even though I liked the cocoa cookie flavor of the dough with oil, I loved the pastry, more tender pie crust type dough, better. Guess you will have to make both and find out. I also think one can fit more filling into the folded hamantashen than into the pinched, crimped type. Then again, you may be more skilled than I am. In that case, I say more power to ya!
For folding directions see Tori Avey's blog. She is a professional. She makes money. I do not. I do this for FUN! Can't you tell? But I digress. You decide. It's Purim. And freedom is what it's all about! And last but not least, let your Bubbies kvell over your hamantashen.You know they would! I send mazel your way!
European Cookie Dough Hamantaschen
From: 1000 Jewish Recipes
Makes about 3 dozen
Time to make:1 1 /2 hours working time, 2-3 hours chilling and baking time
2 3/4 c unbleached flour
1 c powdered sugar
1 t baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 sticks very cold butter, cut into about 32 cubes
1 t vanilla
1 large beaten egg
1 to 3 T of water
Combine flour, powdered sugar, baking powder and salt in a food processor. Pulse briefly to blend. Add butter cubes through tube until mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Mix vanilla with beaten egg. Slowly pour into food processor while motor is running. Dough will come together quickly in a large ball. If the crumbs are dry, you may need to add through the tube, 1 -3 T of ice cold water to bring dough together into a ball.
Take out of food processor and pat down into a thick oval shape. Knead lightly to blend. Enclose dough into a sheet of plastic wrap and push it together into a large thick, flat disc. Refrigerate until very cold. You can do this in your fridge but with the weather we've been having lately, I just set mine out on the deck. It chilled in about 2 1/2 hours. I then brought it in and divided it into two pieces. Let it warm up a bit and then start working it. I rolled it out gently between two pieces of plastic wrap and cut out rounds with a 3" glass. I then put a spoonful of jam or peanut butter or cream cheese in the middle of each round.
For folding directions see Tori Avey's instructions. After folding, chill again and then bake at 350 for about 15-25 minutes until they are golden on the edges and the bottom. It is hard to be more exact because this all depends on how chilled your dough is. If your dough is to warm, it will spread and your schmushed edges will not hold together. You will end up with a delicious mess!
Cocoa Oil Dough:
3/4 c canola oil
1 t vanilla
1 c sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 c flour
3/4 c unsweetened cocoa
Beat eggs, oil and vanilla together.Mix baking powder, salt, flour and cocoa together in a large bowl. Stir in eggs, oil and vanilla mixture and stir well until you can press mixture together into a giant ball. Place ball in plastic wrap and let chill about 15 minutes. Start breaking off pieces of dough about the shape of golf balls. Roll or press out into about 3" circles. Place your choice of filling in the middle. I found this dough harder to work with, so you may have to pinch and schmuss!
Place formed hamentashen on a parchment lined sheet and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. Using the cocoa dough makes it hard to see if the edges are turning gold. These will get crisp upon cooling.
Peanut Butter Filling:
1 c powdered sugar
1/2 c peanut butter
Pinch of salt
Combine together with hands and knead the peanut butter well into the sugar. Freeze this mixture. When ready to use, break this into pieces and form into balls. Place those in the center of a dough round and bake according to directions. If you'd like you can drizzle with melted chocolate and caramel. Thanks to Chocoley for this!
Cinnamon Bun filling:
2 T maple syrup or honey
1/2 t vanilla
2 T powdered sugar
4 oz of cream cheese
1 pinch of salt
1 T cinnamon
Combine well and then freeze mixture. When this is frozen break off big chunks and form into balls and place in the center of the pastry round. Bake according to directions. I drizzled these with a powdered sugar glaze and sprinkled with cinnamon.
Other good things:
Chocolate Krantz Cake or Babka
Dark Chocolate Covered Candied Orange Peels
Halvah Stuffed Baked Apples
Browned Butter, Apricot, Cream Cheese Rugelah
My Yiddish Dictionary:
Kibbitz - have a chat
Whole Megillah - The Book of Esther is always read at Purim. It is a long story. So sitting through the Whole Megillah is a lot like looking at someone's photos from a three week trip abroad.
Greggor - a noisemaker
Tsurris - troubles. "That woman has more tsuris than President Obama."
Maven - expert. "She thinks she is a maven at everything."
Shanda - shame or pity. "What a shanda those Democrats don't believe in free speech."
Schmuss - I made this up!
Schmutz - I made this up, too!
Mishegas - craziness. "If the Democrats hadn't made such a big deal over the speech there wouldn't be all this mishegas!"
Shpilkes - To be on pins and needles. "The Democrats may be sitting on shpilkes after this speech."
Naches - Pride. Usually used to mean pride in one's children.
Farmisht - Confused. "The New York Times makes me feel so farmisht. I am so glad that the Wall Street Journal clarifies it for me!"
Oy Gevalt - Oh man. I can't believe it!
Kvell - To beam with joy. "I am kvelling at seeing these hamentashen not fall apart."
Mazel - luck
Zaftig - Pleasingly plump
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