Get excited because Purim (the Jewish equivalent of Halloween) is almost here and we get to eat Hamantaschen, these triangle-shaped cookies that remind us of the story of the villain (Haman) from the biblical story.
Growing up, our synagogue used to have Purim carnivals where kids would come dressed up in costumes while we retold the story of the deliverance of the Jews from their enemies as it’s written in the Book of Esther…. sounds like a rager, doesn’t it? Well, it was fun when we were five.
We got to play carnival games and tried to win crappy prizes like Chinese finger-traps and those little plastic puzzle games where you hold the piece just the right way and try to get the tiny silver balls to roll into the divots.
One year, I was dressed up as a vampire Michael Jackson, and one of my brothers was Alfalfa one of The Little Rascals; I remember throwing rings onto a pegboard and winning a goldfish in a plastic bag. My parents wanted nothing to do with a goldfish. Three bothers, a dog, a housekeeper…I don’t blame them, I wouldn’t want a fish either. But I was a brat and whined until they agreed to let us keep it.
We filled a fishbowl with some water and dropped a packet of royal blue fish tank rocks we bought from the pet store on our way home from temple. My brothers and I were obsessed with Goldie (not as original as I would have liked) the newest member of our family and our parents had to pry us away from it just to get us to school the next morning.
Later that day, I came home from school to Goldie floating near the surface of the bowl.
“Mom!” I yelled from near the window where the tank was, “guess what?”
“What?” she replied.
“Goldie can swim on her back!”
And that was the day I learned that fish tanks shouldn’t be left in sunny windows!…and that a hamantaschen can make any crying child forget about the loss of a loved one. You’re in my thoughts always Goldie!
Apricot and Boysenberry Hamantaschen
For the dough
- 2 cups pastry flour
- 2/3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter chilled and cut into pats
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 egg white
- 1 whole egg
- 1 heaping tsp of lemon zest (can use orange zest too)
For the filling you’ll need a total of 1.5 cups of whatever filling/s you’re going to use.
My thoughts on the fillings are that you can totally make something from scratch, but you don’t have to. If you’re going to make the filling from scratch just follow your favorite preserves recipe. Otherwise (and this is what I’ve done with the boysenberry preserves) just buy one of any of the wonderful preserves for sale at specialty stores or the local farmer’s market by those whacky jar-fanatics. They need your business and it will save you a ton of time.
For making the shapes:
I used a fluted round cookie cutter (about 3 inches in diameter unless you want your cookies larger or smaller) because I like the way they look, but you can use a smooth round (circle) cutter if you’d like.
For the dough:
Add the two flours, baking powder and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times until combined. Add the chilled pats of butter and pulse about 10 times.
In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, egg, egg white, and lemon zest.
Once combined, add it to the food processor bowl and pulse to mix until the mixture just comes together and starts moving around the bowl. You don’t want to over process the dough so once it comes together stop.
Turn the dough out onto a slightly floured surface and push it together and then divide it in two. Form each half into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 mins.
Roll out the dough on a floured work surface until it’s ¼ inch thick. Cut out disks using your cookie cutter. Place the disks of dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat and put about 1 tsp of your filling of choice in the middle of each.
Pinch the disks in three places to form a triangular shape with the filling still exposed in the center. They’re meant to look like three-cornered hats, which are rumored to have been worn by Haman, the villain from the Purim story. I like to think he had pointy ears and the filling is symbolic of his ear wax. Who know! Place the circle two inches apart, because they will expand a little while baking.
Bake the hamanataschen for 12 to 14 minutes until the hamentaschens are just starting to brown slightly around the edges.
- The traditional fillings are apricots, poppy seeds, prunes, raspberry, and cherry.
- This dough is sweet but not overly sweet, so it’s okay if your fillings are sugary.
- I like the majority of the flour to be pastry flour because it’s nice and fine, making the cookies melt in your mouth. The whole wheat is just to add a hearty flavor and the slightest amount of texture. You can totally use regular flour for the whole thing and they will still be great.
- After cutting out your circles, reform the dough and keep going. You’ll definitely have more filling that you think in the end.
- I use a little lemon zest in my dough, but Gail Gand’s recipe (which was the inspiration for this one) calls for orange zest which also works.