Snack Attack: How to Make Hamantaschen

March 28, 2011

We don't have a ton of time on our hands—what with spending most of our days rubbing down our twitter timelines and making friends at the bar. But every once in a while, a FADER family member will find the time to explore something delicious, talk about what it is and explain how easy it is to make. This week, Naomi Zeichner writes about Hamantaschen.

Purim is a great Jewish holiday, more fun but lesser known than Passover or Hanukkah. This is how it's done: Folks get together to recite a story from the Book of Esther. It's about two women. First, a Queen named Vashti refuses to entertain her husband's guests. Then, a woman named Esther gets chosen to replace her, but doesn't tell her King/Husband that she's Jewish. The King appoints a dude named Haman as his prime minster, Haman plots to kill all Jews. Esther reveals Haman's plan and that she's Jewish, then because the King loves Esther, Haman is murdered instead of everyone else. To celebrate this, law says you've got to read the story with a bunch of people, at night and in a public place. The reader and audience dress up, Halloween style or as characters from the story. The group has to get loud when Haman's name is mentioned. By the end, everyone's supposed to get so holy-stoked (drunk) that they can't tell the difference between who's good and who's bad. Because who can say, in the end, really? It's rad all the Jews don't die and that Esther has balls, but the Jews are the one's with the blood on their hands.

Hamantaschen are Purim's official cookie. The name means Haman's pockets or Haman's ears, they're also supposed to look like his hat. This recipe is my moms, she got it from a woman named Cathy who wrote it up for our temple's sisterhood cookbook. She says it resembles the one Martha Stewart recommends, just a little simpler and less fussy. It's fun and easy to execute. The cookie is soft but not too cakey, crisp around the edges and not all that sweet.

¾ C. sugar
2 C. flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ C. unsalted butter
1 egg, beaten
2 Tbsp. orange juice

Can be filled with:
Apricot, raspberry, or lemon preserves.
Chocolate chips (burn less when paired with preserves)
Poppy seed filling
Date jam (bring some chopped dates and orange juice to a boil on a stovetop, simmer till thick)

Sift sugar, flour, baking powder and salt into mixing bowl. Cut cold butter into small pieces and work into flour with your fingers (or two knives) until mixture is crumbly. Combine egg and orange juice; stir in to flour to make a fine dough. Form dough into a ball, then wrap the ball plastic and let it chill in the refrigerator.

Roll on lightly floured surface till dough is 1/8” thick. Cut out 3”rounds with a cup or proper cutter, then put a teaspoon of filling in center of each round. Bring edges together to form a triangle, pinching them to seal. Leave a small opening in the center.

Bake on greased or parchment lined baking sheet in a 400 degree oven for about 12 minutes, until golden brown.

I made two batches in under two hours with my sister-partner John Arthur. These are the ladies we invited into the kitchen:

Snack Attack: How to Make Hamantaschen