Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Purim




Purim, that wonderful Jewish celebration of Esther's bravery, the defeat of Haman, and God's loving care for His people begins tonight at sundown and lasts for two days, ending Friday.  What better way could there be to join the celebration than by making Hamantaschen Cookies, or Haman's Hats?  These little sweet-filled cookies are a fun part of Purim celebrations.  And children, remember when Esther's story is read, don't forget to loudly stomp your feet, and boo and hiss at the every mention of Haman's name--drown out even the possibility that he might be remembered favorably. 

Here is a recipe for Hamantaschen; it's a little tricky to get them to turn out right, so read my notes which follow.  Enjoy!

Hamantaschen

2  Cups  Sugar
6-1/2 to 7  Cups  Flour
2  Tablespoons  Baking Powder
1/2  teaspoon  Salt
1/2  Cup  Orange Juice
1  Cup  Oil
4  Eggs

2  Eggs, beaten and mixed with 2  Tablespoons  Water

Filling:  Traditional fillings include Apricot Jam, Prune Jam, or Poppy Seed, but anything sweet may be used: thick jam or marmalade (jelly is too runny), chocolate or vanilla chips, peanut butter, Nutella; the possibilities are endless!

Sift the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl, make a well in the center.  In another bowl, combine the Orange Juice, Oil, and Eggs until the Eggs are well blended.  Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing well until it forms a ball of dough.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until well chilled.

Turn out all of the dough onto a well-floured board.  If the dough seems very soft, knead in the last 1/2-Cup Flour.  Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness or slightly more.  Cut into 3- to 4-inch circles, place on greased cookie sheets.

Place a slightly-rounded 1/2-teaspoon of Filling in the middle of the circles--it's better to be on the scant side than to have too much filling.  Too much and it will leak out.
Gently fold over the sides of the cookies, overlapping at the corners, to make a triangle.  For best success, do not leave much filling exposed.  Place cookie sheets in the freezer for 10 to 20 minutes to help them hold their shape while baking.

After the formed Hamantaschen have been frozen for 10 to 20 minutes,  brush the cookies with beaten Egg wash and immediately bake at 375-400* for 10 minutes, until light golden brown.

Makes 3-1/2 to 4 Dozen, depending on size.  Happy Purim!


My first batch, ready for the oven and looking so nice:



Here they are after baking:  not so nice



As you can tell, they flopped.

Big time.

Back to the recipe box...

I did some research, looking at seven or eight different recipes from various cooking and Jewish websites.  Here are some things I found:
  • Chill your dough
  • Overlap the corners, don't pinch them together
  • Cover up as much filling as you can
  • Freeze the Hamantaschen before baking to help them retain their shape
  • The longer you freeze them -20 minutes instead of 5 or 10- makes a big difference in reducing the 'spread' of the dough
  • Runny fillings leak more
  • Use a hotter oven temperature rather than a cooler temperature
  • Hamantaschen that 'rise' more in the oven have a more cake-like texture
  • Don't skip the Egg Wash--it gives the exterior a crisp crust while keeping the interior chewy
  • Ugly cookies still taste good
 I was quite pleased with what my second batch looked like:



until I saw what my final batch looked like:  THIS was what I wanted!


More flour, a longer freezing time, and a hotter oven made the difference!

Here's what the three batches look like side-by-side.  Makes the first flops look quite pitiful!



Here is a photo showing the overlapped corners before baking.  Compare it to the first pre-baked photo which shows pinched corners.


And here is what went to school with the children





Happy Purim to you!

I adapted my recipe from one published 3/4/2012 in the local paper, submitted by Andra Greenwald of Congregation Beth Shalom





2 comments:

Kelley said...

Oh good! I saw these somewhere (most likely Pinterest)and thought they looked fun to try but I'm always hesitant to try something if I don't know they'll turn out... I don't have the patience to do 3 batches to get it right :/ So glad you can get it right and help the rest of us :)

Kendra Graber said...

Wow!! I'm with Kelly...don't know that I would have tried 3 times! Looks so yummy.