Mar 20th, 2008 by Marilyn
I recently baked some hamantaschen – an eastern European cookie and the popular treat of Purim, the Jewish holiday that falls this weekend. Purim is a party holiday, and one of the unlikely few that do not remind us to be miserable. There is drinking and dancing and noise, all celebrating the ancient triumph over Haman, an evil dude with a three-cornered hat. Woohoo!
We commemorate the triumph with, um, a three-cornered cookie. And I dutifully made the three-cornered cookies, and did something our ancestors did not do, I photographed the cookies for the sacrificial blog and uploaded them to the holy site of Flickr.
Last night, I thought “it is time to blog those cookies.” And I wanted to give you accurate hamantaschen reporting you can trust, so I went Googling for a little history. Know what I found?
Almost immediately, I saw “Craving Hamantaschen” at the MenuPages Blog, Boston edition.
I glanced at the picture. Mmm, good-looking hamantaschen. Wait a minute….blue-rimmed plate…nicely filled cookies…familiar cotton napkin…Sweet Sugared Haman! I showed it to Greg.
“Yeah, those look good,” he said.
“Well, no…hey, is that our plate?”
Uh-huh. That is our dining room table, too.
The bad news: someone beat me to the punch with my own cookies! The good news: because they gave me credit, I decided that this blatant cookie-swiping would not prevent me from giving you the post you deserve.
Hamantaschen are traditionally made with poppyseed or prune filling, but modern versions include everything from chocolate chip to mango to peanut butter. Greg grew up making these cookies every year with his Grandma Bertha, who would just as soon fill hamantaschen with peanut butter as run naked through the streets.
In our house, sweet poppyseed filling, or mohn, still rules.
Something our forebears never thought of: the food processor.
If only Haman had owned a black lab. He would have been a much nicer person.
The chilled sugar dough gets rolled and cut into circles, then topped with the poppyseed.
Purists will make their own fillings, but as I see it, we didn’t survive thousands of years so that I could stand around grinding seeds. Solo fillings – poppyseed, prune, apricot, cherry – are available in most supermarkets and work very well.
Make a triangle using your thumbs and forefingers – these are the hamantaschen fingers. Use them to pull up three sides of a filled cookie circle, pinch them together, and form a neatly stuffed triangle.
Repeat, bake, enjoy.
If you are lucky enough to live in cities like Chicago or that other city, New York, you can buy super-sized hamantaschen at bakeries year-round. Or you can try filling a few of your own right now. They say at St. Patrick’s Day that you don’t have to be Irish. To enjoy hamantaschen, you don’t have to be Jewish.
Cookbook author Joan Nathan’s hamantaschen recipe is delicious. Give it a try!