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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I'll Eat My Hat!

Spring has sprung my friends. Ok, maybe it has not fully sprung, but it is indeed springing. I happily lost an hour of sleep this past weekend to gain an hour of daylight, my crocuses are blooming and we are getting ready for Purim.

Ah, Purim. One of the most fun Jewish Holidays to celebrate during the year. It is taken from the Book of Esther. I won’t take up the space with the story of Purim. You can read that here. But basically every Jewish Holiday is based on the same principal. The Jews are persecuted, the Jews find a way, and they celebrate their freedom.

Jewish people get together on 13th day of the Jewish month, Adar to read the story of Purim in the Megillah. Children dress in costume, adults are encouraged to get intoxicated and shake noisemakers and boo loudly when the name “Hamen” is read.

The villain of the Purim story is a character named Hamen. He was a prime minister of sorts to the Persian King who punished Jews for not bowing down to him. Basically the villain of Purim. Haman wore an triangular shaped hat , and that is the story of how the hamentashen cookie came to be.

Before attempting to make my hamentashen this year, I researched for the perfect recipe. Last year I decided to take a short cut and use ready made refridgarated pie crust for the dough. Big mistake. The dough was way too flaky and not sweet enough. Since the cookies are typically filled with a sweet fruit filling, you really have to be careful to balance the sweetness of the dough with the filling. You do not want it too sweet, but yet it shouldn’t taste like a dinner biscuit either. My sister had a disappointing hamentashen experience this year as well. She used a cake mix, added a few extra ingredients, but was not happy with her results. While the taste was decent, the dough did not hold together.

My friend pointed me to a blog that her cousin writes for her Jewish Community. I scanned the recipe and had all the ingredients on hand for the dough, which was one of my requirements for selection. The ingredients seem to provide what I was looking for in a dough. Butter which would lend the fat, a full cup of sugar which would give it proper sweetness, but not too much and a cup of heavy cream which I felt would give finished product a soft bite, unlike a sugar cookie.

I set to work with 3 little helpers ages 5-7. After rolling out the dough we all took turns cutting out perfect circles with an upside down drinking cup. As we were cutting, my 7-year old could not figure out how the cookies were going to be triangles. My 5-year old son an his friend filled each circle with a generous teaspoon of apricot and red raspberry jam. Traditionally poppy seed and prune filling is used, but since I figured the kids would be eating most of them, I stuck with the flavors I knew would be winners to younger, less advanced palates.
Folding up the edges of the circle to seal the fruit filling produced the triangle shape. Once my daughter saw how it was done, it was a easy job for her to do.
After a bake in the oven to turn light golden brown, it was decided that this will be my Hamentashen recipe. Easy ingredients, it came together easy, and tasted absolutely delicious!

Perfect Hamentashen

Adapted from the

I found that chilling the dough for a few hours before rolling it out made a better cookie. The ingredients came together easily in the mixer and I patted it down into a disc and threw it in the fridge. I took it out about 45 minutes before rolling it out.

• ½ lb butter
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 4 1/2-5 1/2 cups flour
• 2 heaping teaspoons of baking powder
• 8 ounces of heavy cream

2 jars of preserves. I think apricot and raspberry work the best.

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and baking powder. Slowly add the flour with the cream until the dough is no longer sticky. You will need some of the flour to put on the counter in order roll out the dough and put on the rolling pin.

Roll dough out and use a glass or round cookie cutter. Place a spoonful of filling in the middle of the circle. Pinch dough to form a triangle. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 10-15 minutes. Makes 4 dozen.

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