This morning I am getting the jump on my Hamentaschen for Mishloach Manot, which are gifts of food given to friends and family on Purim.
Purim starts here in Zichron Yaakov tomorrow evening and in Jerusalem on Tuesday evening, although the parades of costumed kids began last week. So today/tomorrow I am baking and putting together small gifts of at least two kinds of food – including Hamentaschen – to share with our community here.
Is it my imagination, or does Purim seem to start earlier / last longer every year?
In case you have not seen them, Hamentashen are a traditional 3-cornered cookie also known as Oznei Haman (Haman’s Ears in Hebrew), traditionally made with poppy-seed (Mohn) filling. If you don’t care for poppy-seed, you can find them with jams or even chocolate or Nutella.
(There is also another important element of gifts to the poor – element of focusing on those in need, not just our own friends and relatives – which I am not writing about today, and just wanted to mention because that is just as important for the holiday.)
I follow the old Chabad recipe – the one that comes in the middle of the Chabad Jewish Calendar. I find it to be reliable and it’s nice to return to something tried and true every year. I do find that sometimes the dough is a bit sticky, and I also like to occasionally branch out beyond poppyseed (mohn) filling. (With apologies to my son Aaron, I am not ready for peanut butter!)
You may also have your favorite recipe and fillings – and here in Israel there is no need to bake at all – the shops have been full of beautiful hamantaschen cookies for at least the last month!
If you are baking hamantaschen this year, here are a few hints that I hope may be helpful:
- With Passover (Pesach) just around the corner, Purim is also a great time to use ingredients that may not be kosher for Passover. For example, you can substitute a little corn flour for wheat flour in your recipe – as long as it is not more than 25% of the total flour used.
- I am also using (open) jam as filling for some of the cookies – we have strawberry, pomegranate and orange – and it is a great feeling to finish things before Passover.
- If. you are worried about your dough being too sticky, reduce the wet ingredients – either cut back 1 egg or reduce the orange juice or other juice/water. In the recipe above I have substituted 1/3 orange juice and still needed to add a little additional flour.
- If possible, refrigerate the dough after mixing for 1 – 2 hours. This will make it easier to roll the dough out, and should also cut down on the amount of flour needed to keep the dough from sticking. I have the dough in the refrigerator now while I clean up from the first step, write this, and get organized for the next step.
- Be sure to divide the dough into 4 – 6 sections – returning the remainder to the refrigerator as you roll out each portion. This will make the rolling easier and keep the dough chilled as you are working.
- When you roll out the dough it is also very helpful to use wax paper (or any baking paper you may have) to make it easier to get the dough to the desired thinness – approximately 1/8 inch.
These are just a few small hints that I hope may be helpful for the Hamentaschen-uninitiated. Let me know in the comments below if you have suggestions of your own, questions of concerns.
Here are my baked Hamentaschen here and would love to see yours!