Purim is coming and for those of you who don’t know, it is the day when Jews drink a lot and give food to lots of people while dressed in costumes (kind of like Halloween, but the opposite). Additionally, on Saturday morning we are having a get-together for our couples friends at about 11:00 am. And on top of that, the Daring Bakers’ challenge is do soon, so I had to get going on my tiramisu. As you can imagine, I have been baking like a crazy person since Monday. Conveniently, or not so, S. was sick with coxsackie virus on Sunday and Monday, so that gave me a few hours while she was sleeping to get some stuff done. I made the mascarpone cheese – more about that in the post about the challenge. I made two pastry creams, sabayon, tart crusts, lady fingers, and of course tons of hamantashen.
Hamantashen are a traditional Purim treat. They are a essentially a sugar cookie with a jam or other filling. They are triangular in shape, supposedly to represent the triangular shape of Haman’s hat. (Haman was the bad guy who wanted to kill the Jews during the whole Purim story thing). I love hamantashen – they are probably my favorite cookie – I love this time of year when all the bakeries are well stocked with treats. The only issue is that here in Israel they have very boring, traditional fillings like poppy seed, prune, chocolate, and hazelnut. I love fruit flavors like apricot, or blueberry, or strawberry. So I have to make them myself. I made sure to buy a huge jar of strawberry jam with lots of margarine and flour.
I wanted to use my traditional sugar cookie recipe that I always use, but hubby, darling hubby, said, “Don’t your sugar cookies always come out hard? Why don’t you just buy some?” Ummm… right. So with that vote of confidence, I set out to make my hamantashen. I made sure to take out the margarine and the eggs before I put the baby in her bath and put her to bed, so that they would have time to warm up. Then I analyzed what I did wrong in the past that might make my cookies hard. So, I believe that it is because I roll them out to thin. I tend to have that issue with pie crusts as well. What I need for my birthday (hint hint) are those guides that you put on your rolling pin that don’t let you roll out the dough too thin.
So this time I was meticulous about keeping the dough nice and thick, anyway, it had to stand up to the jam that was going to be put inside. It meant that sometimes I had to reroll the dough, but at least my cookies came out nice and thick.
Making hamantashen is really simple, and I think that some people may be put off because they think that it is more complicated than it really is. All you need is a good sugar cookie recipe, a rolling pin and a circular cookie cutter (or a glass or other round cutter). Oh yeah, and filling.
Here is a short tutorial on how to shape the hamantashen:
Step 1: in the center of the circle of dough, place 1 tsp. of filling. Then pinch the top “sides” to make a point, like so:
Then pinch the next corner at the side:
And of course, the last side:
See what a nice triangle it makes? Make sure to leave a little hole in the middle so you can see what flavor your hamantash is.
Here is a whole tray ready to go into the oven,
And here they are cooling on the rack,
Let’s just say that when I asked hubby if the cookies were hard, the answer was most definitely “no.” They were perfectly chewy and delicious.
Feel free to dress them up a bit by dipping a corner into melted chocolate and then in colorful sprinkles!
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
3 cups flour
Strawberry jam (or any other flavor), or chocolate chips
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat each egg and beat for one minute. Add vanilla. Add the flour and salt and mix only until just combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 170° C. Roll out the dough and cut circles. I used a four inch circle cutter and left the dough really thick. It needs to stand up to the jam center. Scoop 1 tsp. of jam into the center of the circle and then fold up the sides and pinch the corners to form a triangle.
Bake for 11 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Let cool on a rack.