This is the final instalment of my hamentashen treatise (see part 1 and part 2). Today we’re taking it old-school with the classic Poppy Seed Hamentashen. This is the hamentashen I grew up with. This recipe comes from Uri Scheft. These are the most popular hamentashen at Lehamim, his Tel Aviv bakery.Make sure you start with very fresh poppy seeds. You’ll need to grind them up a bit. I found that my spice grinder was perfect for the task. The poppy seeds get cooked down into a paste with some milk, sugar and butter. Lemon zest adds a perfect zing of freshness. I learned a great trick from Uri for keeping the hamentashen dough from getting soggy. A handful of cake or muffin crumbs absorb any moisture in the filling leading to hamentashen with a nice crisp bottom crust. I didn’t have any cake or muffin crumbs on hand, so I bought a package of 6 inexpensive white cupcakes at the supermarket, scraped off the icing and ground them up in the food processor to make crumbs. I let the crumbs sit out at room temperature for a few hours to let them dry out a bit. Extra crumbs can be stashed in a freezer bag for another day. I found it easiest to fill hamentashen if I first put the filling into a disposable piping bag.
I’m not quite sure how I feel about the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast (to be released March 17). The original is time honoured and perfect. Frankly, I’m worried. Sometimes you shouldn’t mess with a classic. Remember Lindsay Lohan in the remake of Parent Trap? Jackie Chan as the updated Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid ? Billy Bob Thornton in Bad News Bears? Enough said.
But sometimes messing with the classics works. Traditional hamentashen are filled with either prune or poppyseed filling. In this updated version, apples are cooked down to a thick sauce. A big scoop of dulce de leche and a judicious sprinkling of salt are added and the resulting filling is quite sublime. I have to give credit for this filling to the talented blogger Tori Avey. It was her genius idea. I just took it and wrapped it in a buttery almond shortbread shell.
Click here to print recipe for Salted Caramel Apple Hamentashen.
Hamentashen are the traditional treat baked for the Jewish holiday of Purim, which falls on Sunday March 12 this year. Essentially, the Festival of Purim commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in ancient (4th century BCE) Persia were saved from extermination. If you’re curious to learn more about Purim, check out a more thorough post I wrote in 2012.
I’ve been busy creating and this year I have 3 delicious hamentashen recipes to share with you over the next few days. Dried Cherry and Pecan, Poppyseed and Salted Caramel Apple. My childhood Purim memories consist of store bought hamentashen. My mom bought them from Open Window Bakery in Toronto. They made two varieties, prune and poppyseed. My sisters and I vastly preferred the poppyseed filing. Home-made hamentashen didn’t enter my life until I got married. My husband’s aunts, Carol and Jenny, made their own hamentashen. Tender little triangles brimming with a prune-raisin filling and covered in honey and walnuts. I felt like I’d entered an alternate universe. But a universe I was thrilled to be indoctrinated into . All hamentashen should be topped with toasted nuts. Because, crunch!This hamentashen is my twist on their classic recipe. I halved the amount of prunes in the filling and replaced it with dried cherries. The original strawberry jam was swapped out for sour cherry preserves. And then I went really rogue with the dough! I used a butter dough. Carol and Jenny’s hamentashen dough is made with oil, so if you’re looking for a dairy free option, Aunt Carol’s Hamentashen Dough is a great option.This dough recipe comes from Uri Scheft’s new book, Breaking Breads. It is essentially an almond shortbread cookie dough which gets rolled quite thin.
I created this video to show you how to fill and shape the hamentashen.
Click here to print recipe for Dried Cherry and Pecan Hamentashen.
I recently discovered that Bed Bath and Beyond has their very own blog, called Above and Beyond. Who knew? Check out today’s issue to see yours truly featured as their guest blogger and read the full story! I was asked to write a guest post about the Jewish holiday Purim, which begins tomorrow (Saturday February 23) night.
I share with their readers how to make Hamentashen, the traditional triangular shaped cookie, filled with a dried fruit filling. My hamentashen recipe actually comes from my Aunt Carol. She shared their recipe and techniques with me. Her filling uses dried prunes, golden raisins, strawberry jam, lemon juice and almond extract.
If you are looking for something more modern to celebrate the holidays with check out my recipe for Cinnamon Bun Hamentashen from last year.
Purim begins this week at sundown on Wednesday March 7. For those not familiar with this Jewish holiday, I present to you a basic primer, my version of Purim 101. Essentially, the Festival of Purim commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in ancient (4th century BCE) Persia were saved from extermination. As in every good story you have your heroes and your villans.
The heroes of the story are Esther, a beautiful young Jewish woman living in Persia (now known as Iran), and her cousin Mordecai, who raised her as if she were his daughter. Esther was taken to the house of Achashveirosh, King of Persia, to become part of his harem. King Achashveirosh loved Esther more than his other women and made Esther his queen. Like all intelligent wives, she kept a thing or two about herself hidden from her husband. Upon advice from her cousin Mordecai, she kept her Jewish identity a secret from the King.
Our story’s villan is Haman, a rather arrogant, egotistical advisor to the King. The King appointed Haman as his Prime Minister. Haman had a particular hate-on for Mordecai because Mordecai refused to bow down before Haman every time he passed by. Rather than seeking to destroy Mordecai alone for this slight, Haman decided to take revenge on the entire Jewish population living in the Persian empire. Haman told the king, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your realm. Their laws are different from those of every other people’s, and they do not observe the king’s laws; therefore it is not befitting the king to tolerate them.” (Esther 3:8.)
The King gave Haman permission to do as he pleased. Haman’s plan was to exterminate all of the Jews. He legislated a pogrom that would exterminate every living Jew in the kingdom on a single day. Haman chose the date for the extermination, the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar, by casting lots, or dice. The Persian word for lots is pur, hence the name Purim.
Nothing got past Queen Esther. She had her finger on the pulse on the kingdom. Somehow she overheard this plot to annihilate all the Jews. She consulted her cousin Mordecai and he persuaded Esther to speak to the king on behalf of the Jewish people. This was a dangerous thing for Esther to do, because anyone who came into the king’s presence without being summoned could be put to death, and she had not been summoned. She told him of Haman’s plot against her people and somehow convinced him to save the Jewish people. We’re never told exactly how she convinced him, but there are rumours! The Jewish people were saved, and Haman and his ten sons were hanged on the gallows that had been prepared for Mordecai.
The holiday of Purim focuses on the pleasures of food and drink, more than any other Jewish holiday. It is a time for celebrating and letting go. In fact, traditional Jewish learning requires a person to drink until he cannot tell the difference between “cursed be Haman” and “blessed be Mordecai,” though opinions differ as to exactly how drunk that is. The traditional Purim treat is a little triangular cookie typically filled with a fruit or poppy-seed filling. The shape supposedly represents Haman’s three-cornered hat.
I grew up in Toronto, and in our family Purim was celebrated with hamantashen from Open Window Bakery. They were huge with a hard, crumbly cookie dough exterior and either a prune or poppy-seed filling. My sisters and I fought over the poppy-seed ones. (Mom, why did you even bother buying the prune ones?)
When I met my spouse I was introduced to Ottawa-style hamantashen.They were tiny little triangles of dough filled with a prune and raisin filling, dipped in honey and walnuts. Talk about culture shock. My husband’s aunts, Jenny and Carol, supplied the family with their version of hamantashen. After living in Ottawa for almost 21 years now, I have to admit they’ve grown on me. I actually look forward to receiving my little package from my Aunt Carol. Every March she goes into factory mode and produces vast quantities of hamantashen to send to her nearest and dearest across the universe. I convinced her to share her recipe with me and I’ve scaled it down in case you don’t need to supply an army.
For the non-conformists among you, and you know who you are, I’m also including a recipe for Cinnamon Bun Hamentashen.
I created these a few years ago, in an effort to come up with a few different fillings. One of my more successful experiments featured Hershey’s caramel kisses wrapped in chocolate dough. Possibly my biggest failure was a flaky dough which I filled with brie, toasted pecans and brown sugar. These little triangles looked very pretty before they went into the oven but no matter how hard I pinched the corners, they opened up during baking and the cheese oozed all over and the pecans burned. Not very appealing.
Because I clearly have no life, I created this little video, complete with musical score (courtesy of Michael Frank’s classic tune, “Popsicle Toes”!), to show how the Hamentashen are formed.
The dough for the hamentashen comes together fairly quickly. Sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, flour, baking powder and salt. Remove the dough from the mixer when it is still crumbly and use your hands to do the final bit of kneading.
Aunt Carol’s filling comes together by pulsing all the ingredients in the food processor into a coarse paste.
The cinnamon bun hamentashen filling are easily mixed together by hand.