Like we need an excuse to make cookies! Well, if you do need a reason, Purim is the perfect one. The holiday is approaching fast, and the Curls and Carrots clan is testing hamantaschen recipes. So many fillings to try!
Purim is the pinnacle of the Jewish festival year and delivers the full messages of Shavuot and Pesah. The rabbis stated Mi-shenikhas adar marbin be simhah. This roughly translates to “With the beginning of the month of Adar, we will multiply our joy!” The holiday of Purim is all about festivities and fun. Hence the multiplying cookies!
Long ago, Haman did not succeed in decimating the Jews. Esther and Mordecai saved our people from a frightful fate. The story dates back to ancient Persia. When I think of Persia, the first thing that comes to mind is amazing food. Correspondingly, the food eaten on Purim is abundant and scrum-diddly-umptious. Cookies! Cookies! Oh, and did I mention that at any Purim celebration worth its salt, libations flow like a river? The vantage point from a Purim celebration is like peering through a kaleidoscope. Colorful, circus-like, celebratory and joyful… upside down, right side up, topsy-turvy. You get the picture.
The gastronomy of Purim is unique from many Jewish festivals; there are no food restrictions for this holiday. Still, it has its time-honored culinary traditions. Legumes, beans and seeds (like poppy seeds!) are often enjoyed during Purim. There are even rumors that Esther was a vegetarian; So, it is typical to consume many plant-based foods. Purim recipes often include a bounty of seeds, legumes, fruits and vegetables. A long-simmered pea soup, prepared with sweet, succulent lamb is a lovely way to enjoy both vegetables and legumes during the holiday meal.
In America, hamantaschen with traditional poppy seed filling may be the most well-known food of Purim. The playful, scrumptious sweet is special for its triangular shape Supposedly, the triangle symbolizes evil Haman’s funny, three-pointed hat. These cookies not only make for a fabulous nosh, but are excellent mishloah manot. Mishloah manot, or giving (preferably delectable!) gifts of foods to friends, is an important Purim tradition. A kind present of hamantaschen – delivered in a whimsical, colorful box or a bright bag tied with vibrantly colored ribbons – incorporates both the jubilant and giving spirit of Purim.
There are many arts and crafts for children to enjoy during the holiday. Still, my children most enjoy baking with their Ima (that’s me!). My daughter was devastated to learn that dough for hamantaschen must chill for hours before being rolled out into cookies. If your kids are eager bakers like mine, pre-chill your dough – and maybe whip up a double batch for good measure! Feel free to fill the hamantaschen with your family’s favorite thick jam or jelly, or even dark chocolate chips. Create variety of color, flavor and fun with each hamantaschen.
Happy Purim! Have a good holiday: Gut Yontiff!
Hamantaschen with Poppy Seed Filling
Makes about 14 large hamantaschen
Ingredients for the dough:
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) pareve margarine (such as Earth Balance Buttery Sticks) or butter, room temperature
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 tsp. almond extract
- 2 Tbsp. brandy
- The zest of one orange
- 1 cup white, granulated sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/8 tsp. fine salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
Ingredients for the poppy seed filling (or, omit and use your favorite, thick jam):
- 1 cup poppy seeds
- 1 cup dairy milk (or nondairy milk substitute, if preferred).
- 2 Tbsp. orange juice
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/2 cup raisins
- Dash of salt, about 1/8 tsp.
- 1 Tbsp. pareve margarine or butter
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp. orange liqueur
- 1 large Bosc pear, peeled and grated
Preparation for the poppy seed filling:
- In a mini-chopper or coffee grinder, grind the poppy seeds until fine.
- In a small saucepan, over medium heat, place the poppy seeds, milk, orange juice, honey, raisins and salt.
- Bring the ingredients to a simmer. Allow to lightly bubble until thick, about fifteen minutes.
- Stir in the butter, vanilla extract and orange liqueur. Allow to simmer for a minute more.
- Stir in the grated pear.
- Allow to cool completely before filling the hamantaschen.
Preparation for the dough:
- Preheat your oven to 375•F. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat.
- In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, on medium speed, cream together the margarine or butter, egg, almond extract, brandy, sugar and orange zest.
- In a large bowl, sift the flour, salt and baking powder.
- With the mixer on low-speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the margarine/butter and egg mixture, just until the batter in uniform.
- Use your hands to form the dough into a disc. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least two hours or overnight.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch of thickness.
- Use a round, glass cup or circular cookie cutter to cut out rounds.
- Place a small dollop, about a tablespoon, of poppy seed filling or your favorite jam in the middle of each dough round.
- Fold the edges of the dough to form a triangle. Pinch each edge to seal in filling.
- Evenly divide the cookies between two cookie sheets.
- Bake on the prepared cookie sheets for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are lightest hue of gold.
- Cool completely on wire racks before serving.
Pink Purim Cocktail
Perfect for a Purim party: hamantaschen with a colorful and bubbly buzz.
- pomegranate juice
- pomegranate seeds
- oranges, peeled and sliced into fourths (optional)
- Place two tablespoons of pomegranate juice, and one tablespoon of pomegranate seeds, in a champagne glass.
- Add a twist of fresh orange, if desired.
- Top of the juice and seeds with enough champagne to fill the glass.
©Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, shannaward.com (2013-2014), unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author, Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, and/or owner is strictly and completely prohibited.