Monday, March 24, 2008
Purim is a happy Jewish holiday. No somber fasting, no denial of breads, no mourning - just joy and jubilation. Purim (pronouned poo-rim) celebrates a time when Jews living in Persia were saved from extinction. There is a biblical story that tells the tale of the freedom and it's told throughout the Jewish world each year. It's called the Megillah which literally translated from Hebrew means story.
There is a villan in the Megillah - his name is Haman. He was an evil advisor to the king who was on a mission to destroy the Jews. So the theme starts Hamen - the first part of hamentaschen and "taschen" a German word for purse. Hamentashen are, therefore, a three cornered cookie (representing the three corners of Hamen's hat) with a filling on the inside of the purse.
The tradition of making hamentaschen each year is a fun one. Not only are these cookies delicious, they also become a part of a tradition of giving gifts of charity which are called shalach manot (literally translated means to send gifts).
In larger families, in the midst of all the fun, there are also challenges. For the person who can't have wheat, we use spelt flour, for the people with allergies we change the fillings around, and for people who simple don't like one filling or another, we create a multitude of different fillings and everybody is happy.
If I'm looking for a sure fire recipe for anything Jewish, I always refer to one of Noreen Gilletz's cookbooks
For the Dough:
1 medium seedless orange (quartered but don't peel)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 tsp baking powder
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1. In food processor, process the quartered orange until really fine but not mush
2. Add eggs, sugar and oil and process for about 10 seconds
3. Add flour and baking powder and pulse just until blended - don't overprocess
4. Empty from processor bowl to a lightly floured surface.
5. Divide into quarters to roll out - much easier to work with
6. Roll to 1/4" thickness. Depending on the size of cookies you'd like to create, cut circles with either a glass or bisquit cutter.
This dough freezes well and will also stay in the fridge wrapped in parchment paper for a couple of days.
There are so many different choices for fillings. I happen to like poppyseed - I think I may be the only one in my family who does.
1 cup poppyseeds
3/4 cup milk
2 tbsp liquid honey
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp raisins
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1. Simmer poppyseeds in milk stirring often until milk is nearly completely absorbed. This step will ensure that the poppyseeds lose most of their crunch.
2. Add honey, sugar, raisins and simmer for another 5-10 minutes
3. Add lemon zest and butter, stir until butter is melted.
1 medium orange
12 oz. pkg pitted prunes
1 1/2 cup raisins
In processor - process half of the ingredients at a time emptying bowl in between.
Other suggested fillings:
Apricot, cherry, date, nutella - it's all good
To assemble the hamentaschen
1. Roll out dough to approximately 1/4 inch
2. Cut circles as close together as possible so as not to have to overwork the dough more than necessary
3. Put 1 tablespoon of filling in centre of circle
4. Bring sides up and together pinching together to form a triangle shape. The cookie doesn't have to be completely closed, but the dough should hold together. It's nice to be able to see the filling - especially if you make several different fillings.
I'm not entirely sure what I did to the first batch but this is what happens when your dough doesn't hold together well.
5. Place cookies on greased or sprayed cookie sheet or on silpat
6. Brush with a combination of an egg yolk plus 2 tblsp of water (not entirely necessary but gives it a nicer sheen)
7. Bake in 350 F oven for 25 - 30 minutes
Share with friends and family. Everybody makes a different dough recipe and the variations are numerous. We did three different types of dough in our home and this one is the favourite by far - at least my favourite by far.
Since we used a microplane in this recipe, we'll be submitting this post to a tasty tool event hosted by Joelen's Culinary Adventures.