Monday, March 2, 2015

The Whole Megillah - Hamantaschen (Cookies for Purim)

My son reminded me that Purim begins at sundown on Wednesday, March 4, and I have yet to bake a single hamantaschen.  Oy, if I'm not careful, somebody is going to come along and take away my balaboosteh designation.  Can't let that happen.

Cory as Mordecai, circa 1997, giving advice to "Queen" Esther

I have two hamantaschen recipes, and this is my favorite, as it is closest to the cookie-like dough I grew up eating in New York.  Purim is a rather happy holiday, and we Jews are not only permitted but encouraged to be rowdy.  The adults can get verschnickert, while the kids can buzz around on excess sugar.  The important thing is to yell "boo!" whenever the villain's name, Haman, is spoken during the reading of the Megillah, and to eat a lot of hamantaschen.

Urban Baker Hamantaschen (adapted from Joan Nathan)

2/3 cup (10 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 extra large egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking powder
a pinch of kosher salt

Filling choices: Prune (lekvar) and apricot are the fillings I grew up with.  Poppy seed (mohn) is very traditional, and raspberry has become very popular (and delicious).  Solo brand puts out all of these fillings, which are much better to use than preserves or jams which do not hold up well during the baking process and will leak from the seams of the cookie.  Nutella, that cocoa hazelnut mouthful of joy, is another filling that works well.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of your food processor fitted with the metal blade, cream butter and sugar together.  Add egg and vanilla.  Slowly add dry ingredients.  Mix thoroughly until the dough forms a ball.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Roll out dough on a floured work surface to 1/8″ thickness (I cut the dough into quarters, and rolled out each piece between sheets of wax paper.  Worked like a charm.)  Cut circles of your dough. with  a 3 inch round cookie cutter. In the center of each circle put a small amouth (scant 1 teaspoon) of filling.  Resist the impulse to overfill the cookie.  Dip your finger in some water and run your finger around the outer edge of the dough. Fold into a three cornered shape, allowing some of the filling to show. Line your baking sheet with a silicon baking pad (silpat), or parchment paper, place the hamantaschen about 2 inches apart, and bake for 14-16 minutes or until the outer edge is golden brown.  Remove from the baking sheet with a metal spatula and place on a cooling rack.

Hopefully, I'll have some photos to share of freshly-baked hamantaschen once I get around to actually baking them.

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