With Purim coming up this Saturday, Feb. 23, there is still time to bake hamantashen, the triangle-shaped, filled cookies that are iconic to this holiday.
Haman is the bad guy in the story of Purim (Hamantashen is Yiddish for “Haman’s hats”), and like so many stories in Jewish history, it goes like this: Haman tried to kill the Jews; they found out and foiled his plot. It ended happy, so let’s eat (cookies).
The Word Mavens also happen to be excellent Jewish cooks, and for this Purim post we are going to share with you the super-secret technique to making hamantashen – and making them easily.
Many recipes for hamantashen instruct you to roll out the dough and cut circles with a cookie cutter. Anyone who has ever made sugar cookies/Christmas cookies/Hanukkah cookies knows that this can be challenging. The dough sticks to the counter and the rolling pin. It’s difficult to lift the wiggly shapes of dough onto the cookie sheet. The kids start to complain that baking together isn’t really fun.
We are here to tell you that rolling out the dough is UNNECESSARY. It is much easier to simply make a small ball of dough (meatball sized) and flatten it with the palm of your hand. This gives you the circle shape that is perfect for filling and folding into a triangle.
The traditional filling for hamantashen is fruity – apricot or cherry or prune spread (called lekvar). Poppy seed spread (mun, in Yiddish) is also traditional, but no one likes mun.
Our kids like to fill hamantashen with chocolate chips, and a quick look online found advocates for Nutella, lime curd, raisins and nuts, and even guava paste-filled hummies.
Hamantashen should be the size of a cookie, but what cookie? Some connoisseurs prefer bite-sized hamantashen, so they can eat six. Others like a big one, so they can balance it on top of a cup of coffee and carry it to the other room.
Whatever size you choose and however you fill them, give our secret hummie-making method a try. And Happy Purim!
2/3 cup margarine or Crisco shortening
1/3 cup oil
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
Filling: Fill with your favorite pie filling, or with chocolate chips. (We like Solo brand cake and pastry filling, which we find in the baking aisle of our supermarket.
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper. Cream the first four ingredients in a bowl. Mix in the baking powder, vanilla and salt. Add the flour to this mix one cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl until it forms dough. If you need to, add a teaspoon or two of milk or orange juice to get the dough to come together.
Use the secret “flatten a ball method” to make dough circles. Fill them and then fold them into triangles and bake until brown on the edges, about 18-22 minutes. They won’t look completely brown, like a traditional cookie, just brown on the bottom and tips of the triangle. They should bake for 18-22 minutes.
Makes 1-1/2 – 2 dozen medium ( bigger than an Oreo, smaller than a catcher’s mitt) size