March 23, 2011

Hamantaschen- Part 1

Hamantaschen. Traditional Purim cookies. I could go on about them for hours.

If the only hamantaschen you have ever consumed came from a grocery store, drop everything and get your apron ready. It's time to make the real stuff.

Normally, what you can find in the bakery section of your local supermarket is in reality a jam cookie with a basic sugar cookie base. This is not what hamantaschen are supposed to taste like. They are actually made from a thin, flaky, slightly sweetened dough. There is a wide range of filling options, from traditional to non-traditional. And furthermore, hamantaschen are meant to be shared and enjoyed by family and friends.

Every year, my parents and I would go to a hamantaschen making party. For me, this was the highlight of Purim and an essential part of the holiday. We would walk into the house, where the dough would be sitting out on long wooden tables. The adults would roll out the dough, which had been prepared by the host, while the children ran about, impatiently waiting with glass cups to cut the circles.

When the dough was prepared, we would then busy ourselves filling as many hamantaschen as we could, with as many different flavors as possible. Chocolate would always a favorite around the younger set, as well as peanut butter, and we were determined to make as many of our favorites as possible, knowing that they could very well be eaten as soon as we turned our backs.

Our hosts and some of the adults would whisk in and out of the rooms with large baking sheets. We would fill them up quickly with cookies and pop them into several ovens. As soon as they were done, they would be placed onto cooling racks, where they would inevibly be found and devoured, warm and delicious. As many hamantaschen as we ate, there were always more.

Eventually, the remainder would be packed up and we would take our spoils home.

So many different types of hamantashen fillings. Endless possibilities. Let's get started.

Hamantashen Dough
from Jewish Holiday Kitchen
(makes enough for 24-36 depending on size)

2/3 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk or water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 to 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar. Add the egg and continue mixing until smooth. Add milk and vanilla. Stir in the shifted flour until a ball of dough is formed. 

If you do not have a dough hook or a food processor to help mix the dough, roll up your sleeves and wash your hands. Add the flour a little at a time, mixing with a spoon, scraping down the sides and making sure to incorporate all the flour from the bottom of the bowl. Continue adding flour, until mixture becomes harder to work with and stick your hands right in, adding more flour until it becomes a workable dough.

Once your dough is formed chill dough 2-3 hours or overnight.

The cookies will need to bake in the oven at 375 degrees. 

Proper folding technique will be discussed in a later post, as well as different kinds of fillings, both traditional and nontraditional.

Happy Purim Everyone!

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