Hamantaschen are the traditional Jewish cookies served at Purim,
noted for their three-cornered shape.
Several theories exist about the origin of the cookie’s name. One is that they originally were called “mon-taschen,” which is Yiddish for “poppyseed pockets” — poppyseed being the traditional filling. The most commonly accepted theory, however, ties the name to Haman — the villain of the Purim story — who supposedly wore a three-cornered hat. Whether called mon-taschen, Haman’s pockets or Haman’s ears, they’re delicious, and we’re happy to offer the following recipes submitted by members of our Temple staff.
A family recipe, passed along by Rachel Brumberg,
associate director of Lifelong Learning, with a little help from her friends…
MY MOTHER MADE hamantaschen every year. As I child I would help her. Later on she would plan far in advance to ensure she could get them to everyone in time for Purim. I received many mishloach manot from her sent through the U.S. mail; she sent them all over, no matter the distance: my brother in Connecticut, friends in Colorado, even to me in Israel. Apricot was always my favorite, so she filled most of them with that sweet and tangy filling. Because she was a stickler for the traditional fillings, she also had to include prune and poppy. In later years, chocolate chips made a shocking debut. But no matter the filling, they always were perfect golden triangles.
Shortly after my mother died, my friend Debbie started the pre-Purim tradition of making dough (from her great-aunt’s recipe) and inviting friends to bring their favorite fillings for a hamantaschen-baking fiesta. At the end of the day, we all would pack up lots of hamantaschen filled with a whole assortment of interesting stuff: nuts, chocolate chips, jam, Nutella, orange peel, poppy, ginger. No two years ever were the same.
I, sadly, did not have any of my mother’s recipes at that time, but I couldn’t imagine making hamantaschen without the traditional (meaning tasting just like my mom’s) apricot filling, so I put out the word that I was looking for such a recipe. To my pleasure, a co-worker came through! She had a recipe, but her kids hated it, so she could never make it herself. (Peanut butter and chocolate are the only acceptable fillings in her household.) She was happy to pass it on to me, and, in turn, I was able to bring her some of my homemade treats each year thanks to her recipe.
One year, Debbie was not able to have her usual hamantaschen-baking gathering, which prompted me to search for my mother’s recipe to continue the tradition. After much searching, and serious research that would make sense only to anyone who knew my mother, I am happy to say that the recipe was found, and the hamantaschen were made. I, along with all whom I shared the holiday treats, was happy.
I am pleased to be able to now share this recipe with you, a recipe that was given to my mother by her grandmother, my great-grandmother. (I make it using her rolling pin!) I hope that it inspires others to create their own holiday baking traditions. Enjoy!
3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup margarine
¼ to ½ cup orange juice
1. Put half of the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse on and off to mix thoroughly.
2. Add 1 stick margarine (cut up) and process until the consistency of oatmeal.
3. Add 1 egg and quickly process until blended.
4. With cover on, add small amount of orange juice through food tube; process until it forms a mass. (Juice should be added slowly.)
5. Turn out on the floured surface; form into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill thoroughly or freeze until ready to use. The dough keeps well in the freezer.
6. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
APRICOT FILLING (courtesy of Leora Isaacs)
½ pound dried apricots
¼ cup apricot nectar
Grated peel of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ cup finely chopped walnuts
1. In a small saucepan, combine apricots, apricot nectar, lemon peel and juice.
2. Cook 20 minutes, until apricots are tender; this may require adding additional nectar as it boils down.
3. Remove from heat and let cool.
4. Process in food processor until pureed; add nuts and process until blended.
5. Makes filling for two dozen cookies; can be completed several days in advance.
OTHER FILLING SUGGESTIONS
It is fun to experiment with different ingredients to fill the hamantaschen. Besides the apricot filling, my favorite is raspberry jam together with dark chocolate chips. If you are going to use jam, make sure that it is a thick jam so that it doesn’t ooze out of the cookie while baking. Feel free to be creative with your own fillings!
TO MAKE THE HAMANTASCHEN
|1. Roll out a quarter of the dough on a well-floured surface. (You can tape wax paper to a table or counter for easy cleanup.) The rolling pin should be well floured, too. Add flour to dough if too sticky.
2. When the dough is about ⅛-inch thick (maybe even slightly thinner; if it’s too thick, the dough will rise while baking and become cake-like), you’re ready to start making the cookies.
3. The secret to making the triangle shape of hamantaschen is to start with a circle. The circles traditionally are cut from the dough by using round drinking glasses; today you certainly can buy a circle cookie cutter (but I think that’s less fun). My mother also would make mini-hamantaschen by using a small, shot-sized glass to cut out small disks.
4. Once you have the circles cut, place a dollop of filling in the middle of the dough. Warning: Although it’s tempting to try to overstuff a hamantaschen, please refrain. Adding too much filling will lead to less than great results when baking; the filling can ooze out, or the sides can fall down, and you almost certainly will wind up with an open, round cookie with filling melted on top.
5. Here’s the tricky part: Lift/fold up three sides of the dough circle and pinch the three corners so that you create a triangle with the filling secure in the center. Make sure that the corners are stuck together tightly and that the three sides become walls around (and even slightly covering) the filling. You want to do this so that, as stated in the above warning, when you bake the cookie it does not fall apart, open up or ooze out.
6. Place filled triangle cookies on a greased cookie sheet.
7. When there is no longer enough rolled dough left to cut out more circles, ball up the scraps and start again.
8. Bake hamantaschen in a preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 18 minutes, or until cookies turn golden-brown and are firm to the touch.
9. Let cookies cool on racks.
10. Repeat with rest of dough or until fillings run out.
Orejas de Haman
(Sephardic-style Fried “Haman’s Ears” Cookies)
From Estelle Hendrickson, former assistant to our rabbis…
MY FAMILY ORIGINALLY WAS from Aragon, Spain. During the Inquisition, they immigrated to Salonika, Greece. With them they brought many customs as well as recipes that have been handed down from one generation to another. Although I did not know my grandparents, my parents always told us stories about how the holidays were celebrated and about the recipes for the different dishes prepared. Although there are many recipes in our family cookbook for Purim, this one is one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy them!
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons water
2¼ cups flour
Oil for deep frying
Honey, lemon juice, water
(for dipping syrup)
1. Beat the eggs until light and fluffy.
2. Add salt, sugar and water to eggs; beat well.
3. Sift in flour to make the dough. Knead until smooth.
4. Roll the dough on a lightly floured board.
5. Cut into half-moon shapes with a pastry cutter.
6. Pinch the center of each half-moon, like a bow tie, and fold the ends up to make “ears.”
7. Deep fry in hot oil until golden brown.
8. Cool on paper towels and sprinkle with
9. For dipping syrup:Combine equal parts honey, lemon juice and water (or adjust to taste) in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
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