Our little plate of hamantaschen

Anyone who knows me knows that I love words; big words, small words, monosyllabic ones and polysyllabic ones. I love word games and puns.

So back when I was living in Jerusalem, it was not a surprise to my “new” chevrah when I dressed as “B’DaTz” for Purim.

“B’DaTz,” is the Hebrew acronym for “Bet Din Tzedek” (Just Rabbinical Court), which is a hekscher, or rabbinic kosher stamp of approval for food and food-related items.

A forest green, mid-calf length, drop-waist dress was the base of my costume. I stuck big 2-inch diameter orange, fuchsia, and teal paper DOTS all over my dress. Voila! I was dressed as “B’DaTz.” I won the costume prize at the mostly English-As-A-First-Language Purim party. Light-years away from, and much different than winning the costume prize years before at a Halloween party dressed as a slice of bacon.

In more recent years, I have moved to a different food group: the hamantasch. At just over 6 feet tall, I make for a very statuesque one. I have dressed as both a mohn (poppy seed) hamantasch and as a more “modern” very bright purplish pink centered one.

I have made buckets full of fabric (felt, to be specific) hamantaschen, complete with black or brown, or red or orange pom-pom centers. I have made and worn Sculpey hamantaschen earrings and brooches galore. I have even decorated my very young son, Ari, as a plateful of these delectable felt treats.

Experience has shown me that people prefer to eat real hamantaschen. Even though I have attempted to make rounded corner yeast hamantaschen (my Dad’s favorites are prune-filled), I have failed every time. So, whether baking with my children, other people’s children, or other adults, I make the pointier cornered cookie hamantaschen.

Some of my maven cookie-baking friends kvell over my cookie recipe and we swap filling recipes and actual fillings. Every cookie my friend Eileen makes is a perfect & closed triangle, which is much more challenging when baking with children. Eileen’s platters of Purim delights are picture perfect, looking as though they are straight out of a food magazine. Better than any unmelted chocolate chip center, Eileen makes her adored Chocolate Brownie Hamantaschen Filling (see below), which she has agreed to let me share here:

“EILEEN’S FAMOUS CHOCOLATE BROWNIE HAMANTASCHEN FILLING”

5 oz semisweet chocolate
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
6 T butter
2/3 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 T instant coffee granules
¾ C sugar
¾ C chocolate chips
2/3 C chopped nuts (OPTIONAL)

In a medium saucepan, over medium-low heat, melt the first 2 chocolates together. Take off heat and mix in the butter, flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, vanilla, coffee, and sugar. Mix to combine and then fold in chocolate chips. Add nuts if desired. After this has completely cooled, store in fridge in air-tight container.

I have had my dough recipe for years and although I know it’s not original (it comes from a tiny small-format Jewish cookbook I once owned), I share it here, along with some more filling recipes. These delightful Purim treats are welcome any time of year, except for Pesach, of course.

STACY’S UNORIGINAL-BUT-YUMMY HAMANTASCHEN COOKIE DOUGH

This recipe does not make many cookies; I never know the yield because I make different sizes. I always double this recipe. Sometimes I wing it and make chocolate dough. I reduce the flour by ¼ C and add ¼ C unsweetened cocoa powder. I do not put in orange juice, instead adding 1 T strongly brewed coffee and 1 oz melted bittersweet chocolate. This dough can be looser, so it’s important to go easy on the liquids.

¾ C sugar
2 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
8 T unsalted butter or margarine, cold
1 large egg, slightly beaten
3 T fresh orange juice

• Combine dry ingredients in food processor.
• Pulse in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.
• Add egg and juice and process just until dough forms.
• Form into 8 inch disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours or overnight.

• When ready to bake: preheat oven at 350 degrees.

• Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
• Roll dough out to 1/8 inch thickness on floured surface.
• Cut into circles with 3” cookie cutter, or whatever size you so desire—MAY NEED TO ALTER BAKING TIME ACCORDINGLY.

• Place 1 tsp of filling in center (more or less depending upon circle size).
• Pinch 3 edges of dough together creating 3 corners, leaving small opening in center for filling to peek through.

Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes before removing cookies. Cool cookies completely on racks.

I love making cookies with a combo of fillings. I make all of my fruit fillings with dried fruit from Trader Joe’s, but you can use any dried fruit. All of these fillings can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge in air-tight containers for about two weeks! Cherry-chocolate or cherry-apricot or apricot-chocolate seem to be the biggest hits.

Here are some choice filling flavors that have served me well over the years:

• Dried Slab Apricots
• Dried Blueberries (not the freeze dried ones)
• Prunes (which are now remarketed as “dried plums”)
• Dried Pitted Tart Montmorency Cherries

MAKE YOUR OWN HAMANTASCHEN FILLING

¼ lb dried fruit
½ C water
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in small saucepan and cook over medium heat until most of the liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes.
Let cool and puree in food processor.
Refrigerate until needed
Although I have made my own mohn/poppy seed filling, it’s much more cost-effective to buy canned filling.

So, what’s your favorite filling? Please vote in my first Learning, Laughter & Light Poll:

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