If people have not guessed yet, food is a somewhat important part of my life, as is Judaism. Luckily for me, food is also an important part of Judaism, so life, at times, it quite good. Years ago I used to write a Jewish food column on an early Jewish website called the Jewish Communication Network. I am posting my Purim entry from that site here today.
We are now beginning a period of time in which many Jews think of so much food it can make them go crazy. Purim is just around the corner, and right behind that is Passover. Today I would like to talk about Purim and Hamentashen.
In the Purim story the Jews are living peacefully in Persia, but Hamen, one of the kings advisers, does not like them because they are different. He gets the King’s permission to destroy all the Jews. A Jew named Mordecai and his niece Esther save the day, the King moves his support to the Jews, and they win the war and kill Hamen and his people. For more info, read the book of Esther.
Esther then proclaims a holiday for all time to commemorate this. There are not really any traditions about the foods to be eaten at this meal, but there is one special traditional food for Purim, and that is known as Hamentashen.
Hamentashen is a three cornered cookie like pastry with some sort of filling in it. It is very easy to make, and I hope that you will print out this recipe and make it tonight! The recipe makes about 18 Hamentashen, and can be doubled, tripled or even quadrupled without any problems. I hope you enjoy.
Well, enough talk, on with the recipe:
- 1 stick Margarine – softened
- 1 c. Sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp. Vanilla
- 2 tsp. Baking Powder
- 2 c. Flour
- Place the Margarine in a bowl and add the sugar.
- Mix the two together with a fork or beaters until totally incorporated. This is called creaming.
- Add the egg and mix together.
- Add the Vanilla and the Baking Powder and mix.
- Add the flour a little at a time until the dough is no longer sticky. Use more or less flour as needed.
- Flatten into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Put in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured board or table. Roll it out to about 1/4 inch thickness and then cut circles with a cookie cutter or use an “old-fashion” glass.
- Set aside your cut cookies. You may stack them with a bit of flour between each layer.
- Take one circle and put about 1/2 teaspoon of the filling in the center. Bring up one side and then a second side and pinch together one corner. You will now have a “third side” to bring up and pinch together the two remaining corners.
- Place on a cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick spray and put in pre-heated 350° oven for about 10-15 minutes or until just beginning to turn color. I like my Hamentashen to be just turning brown.
- Remove from oven and cool on racks.
FillingsThis is not meant to be an endorsement, but I have tried them all. The best filling that one can buy for Hamentashen is Solo brand pie filling. It has the best consistency of the pie fillings I have found. Traditional flavors would be Prune, Poppy or Apricot, though they have many different flavors. You could also use Chocolate Chips, or Nutella, which is a hazelnut chocolate combination. Be careful with Chocolate chips though as the cookie will dry up when baking. I like to put a small amount of raspberry or strawberry filling in the center and put two or three chocolate chips in the filling.
If you would like to make your own fillings, you should take your fresh fruit, peel then and take out any seeds or pits and then cut them into smaller pieces. Place in a pot and put in some sugar to taste. If the fruit dried, like apricot, you should just cover the fruit with water. Cook this down slowly until you are left with a thick syrup. If it is not the right consistency, mix one teaspoon of corn starch with 1 teaspoon water in a glass. Pour into the fruit mixture. It will thicken up quickly.
You can use 1/2 stick of regular Margarine and 1/2 stick light margarine to cut down on some of the calories.
You can use your food processor for this recipe. Put the Margarine and the sugar in the bowl of the food processor, and process for 30 seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients except the flour and process for about 1 minute until mixed through. Add the flour and process until the dough begins to form a ball in the center of the bowl. At this point, take it out and finish it on your floured board.
It is best to chill the dough before rolling so it is easier to work with.