Friday, February 26, 2010

Hey, Hey, Hamantashen


Photo by Anthony Palatta

One of my favorite holidays as a kid was Purim, which is often described as the Jewish version of Halloween because it involves dressing up in costumes. From a culinary perspective though, Purim is important because it's the time of year for eating "hamantashen," triangle-shaped cookies consisting of a simple butter cookie filled with one of three traditional fillings: cherry, apricot, or poppy seeds, three flavors that growing up, I couldn't stand. Thankfully, my mother would substitute a cinnamon-apple filling, or chocolate chips.

This year was my first making hamantashen, and I learned a few things. First, the dough is fairly simple to throw together: butter, sugar, eggs, lots of flour, vanilla, and baking powder. Second, the thinner you can roll the dough, the better, as it's a heavy cookie. Third, to make the triangle shapes, you need to cut out circles and then pinch the corners together--hard! Otherwise, while baking, the cookies tend to puff and pucker, ending up in shapes that are more pornographic than triangular.

For my fillings, I went for the traditional cherry and non-traditional blueberry, though I cheated and bought canned pie filling. If I'd had time, it would have been worth it to make my own so the homemade taste of the filling would match the homemade dough.

Also, I divided the dough in half and added chocolate chips for the cherry-filled portion, a winning tart-plus-sweet combo that would have been better with mini chocolate chips, as the size of regular chips prevented me from getting the dough as thin as I wanted.

Still, in the end, thin or fat, hamantashen are a satisfying Eastern European-style treat that probably goes best with a cup of hot tea on a cold snowy afternoon, like the one when I baked mine...

Here's how to make yours:

Ingredients:

1 stick of unsalted butter (or margarine for those who want non-dairy hamantashen)
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
(mini-chocolate chips, optional)
Fillings of your choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and incorporate. Gradually add the rest of the ingredients. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 1/4-1/2 inch thickness. Cut circles about 3 inches in diameter. Fill with whatever fillings you prefer (strawberry or apricot jam would be nice, blueberry, apple, or cherry pie filling, poppy seeds) Pinch the dough together in three corners to create triangles. Be sure to press hard.

Bake on parchment-lined cookie sheets for about 20 minutes. (Mine only took 18 minutes). Dough should be fragrant and lightly golden.

2 comments:

  1. Hey Aaron,

    Your blog site is lively in content, style, and color -- congratulations! Enjoyed your description of the consequences of not pinching the Hamantashen corners hard! In my mind, I can smell the buttery dough baking ... like shortbread, I imagine. If my oven were working (it's been out of commission for 6 years -- we're exclusively stovetop cooks here), I'd be tempted to try your recipe this weekend.

    Keep up the great blog!

    --LLOYD

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yay, love this. Thanks for posting the recipe. I remember going over to a friend's house to make hamantashen in 7th grade, but haven't eaten them since.

    PS - Have you gotten a hamantashen at Moishe's Bake Shop on 2nd Ave? Theirs are so huge that I've been too intimidated to buy one..

    ReplyDelete