Jews around the world, prepare to get your celebration mode in gear, it’s time for Purim!! Head to your nearest synagogue, crank up your groggers and get ready to drown out the name of Haman while cheering on Esther and Mordechai. As a prerequisite to any and all Purim celebrations (and seudahs), it’s time to dig out your favorite hamentashen recipe and get baking. This year I got an email with the query of where exactly did the idea of a hamentashen come from. After a bit of research I came up with 3 slightly different but not dissimilar explanations for the seminal holiday treat. Simply put, the hamentashen is a three cornered pastry whose traditional filling is considered poppy seed. In Yiddish, hamentashen roughly translates to Haman’s Pocket. Other cultures call it Haman’s Hat (the villain supposedly wore a three-cornered chapeau). Still another explanation I found calls the pastry Haman’s Ear (truly didn’t want to explore the origin of this one). No matter which definition you choose to adhere to the oldest “traditional” Hamentashen recipe I found was made with yeast dough. The yeast dough variety is typically larger and more Danish like than the cookie dough variety I grew up with. No matter which dough you choose the most talked about filling I found was poppy seed. Not my favorite filling but a poppy seed filling is seemingly found in most of the recipe collections I found. Sky’s the limit when it comes to the fillings, from fruits and nuts to chocolate and a mixture of any and all of your favorite things. Just make sure not to overstuff and have a “vent” as they tend to “explode” into weird looking “cookies” if the steam from the cookie filling builds up and there is nowhere for it to go. To make choosing the kind of hamentashen you want to make easier I’m offering yeast-style and cookie dough recipes and bunch of really different filling recipes. Since you can always buy pie filling, there are no excuses not to make them. Strain out the excess goo and add some bread crumbs and chopped golden raisins to make your own “homemade” fillings. If you’re pressed for time these recipes are going to help you make the hamentashen truly deliciously unique. Make note, I typically do not make my own poppy seed filling. I find it way too expensive to make when my husband is the only one in our home who likes it, and when the canned variety made by SOLO is really great once I doctor it with a bit of cinnamon.
In a bowl cream together the butter and sugar.
Mix in the egg.
Sift the flour and baking powder together, and then add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture in thirds alternating with the milk or water and vanilla, ending with the flour.
Let the dough rest for at least 10 minutes before rolling it out on a lightly floured surface.
Roll dough out to a quarter-inch thick. Cut into rounds and place a heaping spoonful of filling in the center of the round. Pull up the sides to form a triangle.
Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15–30 minutes until lightly golden brown.
Yields 2–3 dozen depending on the size of your rounds
In a bowl combine the eggs, oil, sugar, water and orange juice. Whisk to combine.
Add the flour, salt and baking powder and fold it in; do not over-mix. This will be a soft dough.
Let sit for 10–15 minutes.
Divide dough into three parts. Roll out to about a quarter-inch thick on a floured surface. Cut into rounds and place a heaping spoonful of filling in the center of the round. Pull up the sides to form a triangle. Repeat with remaining dough.
Brush the top of the filled hamentashen with the beaten egg.
Bake on a lightly greased (or use Gefen Parchment Paper) baking sheet at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20–25 minutes or slightly longer until golden brown.
Yields 1 and 1/2 – 2 dozen depending on the size of the rounds
In a glass (microwavable) bowl melt the margarine, semisweet chocolate and the unsweetened chocolate together.
Mix in the flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, vanilla, coffee and sugar.
Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts.
Makes enough filling for 24 to 36 hamentashen, depending on the size.
In a bowl combine the jam, nuts and breadcrumbs. Use a teaspoon or tablespoon for filling, and just before cooking place a fresh raspberry in the open part of the hamentashen.
Makes 2 cups filling
Take a pound of dried fruit, either apricots or prunes, and put them in a saucepan to cover with water and set them on the stove to cook until the water is almost gone. Don’t let the water evaporate; it will burn. You can add more water if needed and the fruit is not soft and mushy.
At this point add the sugar and continue cooking on a low temperature until the sugar is totally melted, 3–4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool until room temperature.
Using a food processor or blender, process until smooth.
Makes approximately 1 and 1/2 – 2 cups
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process for two to three minutes until combined but not totally pulverized. Should be chunky.
Makes approximately 2 cups
In a saucepan combine all the ingredients and cook at a medium heat for about 15 minutes until the sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and cool completely.
Makes 1 and 1/2 cups
Place the prunes, raisins, sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and cloves in a saucepan and add water or prune juice just to cover. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn off the heat and let stand for 30 minutes
Place the mixture in a food processor and process to a slightly chunky paste.
Makes approximately 2 cups
In a small saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk to combine. Whisk in the water and eggs. Whisk in the lemon zest and lemon juice.
Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture is thick and bubbly. Boil approximately one minute and then remove from heat.
Stir in the butter, cover with wax paper and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Makes approximately 1 and 1/2 cups