Monday, March 9, 2009

Happy Purim - Hamentashen/Hamantaschen ..whatever you call it

What is with Jewish words that can be spelled 11 different ways? Is it Chanukkah or Hanukkah? Hamentashen or Hamantaschen? Ahhh, who cares. What matters here is the recipe not the wording, right?

So its Purim..."what is Purim" and "what does it have to do with Hamantashen", you ask? Well, I'll let my Hebrew School trained children get into the nitty gritty details but basically there was this evil dude, Haman (insert loud noisemaker here), who wanted all the Jews dead and he wore a pointy triangular hat and now, Jews everywhere eat his hat. Well, not his hat, but cookies shaped like his hat. Why? I have no idea - I think that Jews find every excuse to turn a story into food.

So my excited little 6 year olds were putting on the Jewish guilt to make Hamantashen with them (Darn they learn that Jewish guilt so young!) and because I am a recipe nut-case, I cannot just turn over a can of cherry filling and use THAT recipe (oh the horror!) I had to spend over an hour researching the perfect one.

I HATE hamantashen that is crumby, tasteless and dry. I think the key is a bit of a rugelach like taste (ok more on that cookie in a few months..) so that means- the addition of cream cheese. Hey, cream cheese never hurt anyone - just ask my friend Debbie who thinks you can add it to EVERYTHING..
Tradional hamantashen contains a prune (or Lekvar) filling but I took a chance and assumed my kids were NOT begging me to make Hamantashen because they had a hankering for we switched it up a bit and went with chocolate.
The result was buttery, flaky and deliciously chocolatey.

So, while it may make no sense as to why we eat this cookie or why its shaped like the guys hat or better yet, what a cookie has to do with persecution of Jews in persia- this cookie, with a glass of milk is a nice tribute to our people and our culture.
Enjoy and Happy Purim!

Dough: (adapted from smitten kitchen)

Preheat oven to 350

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature ( I used whipped)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs (1 for dough, 1 for brushing)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 1/3 cups plus 4 teaspoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add sugar and mix for one minute longer, then egg, vanilla extract, orange zest and salt, mixing until combined. Finally, add the flour. The mixture should come together and be a tad sticky. If it feels too wet, add an additional tablespoon of flour.

Form dough into two discs, wrap in seperate plastic wraps and put in freezer for 20 minutes.

To form the hamantaschen, roll out the dough on a well-floured surface until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter (2-3" across) cut the dough into circles. Brush egg mixture on rounds, spoon a teaspoon of you filling (see below) in the center. Fold the dough in from three sides and firmly crimp the corners and give them a little twist to ensure they stay closed. Leave the filling mostly open in the center. Brush a bit more egg mixture on outsides. Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Chocolate Filling (From Jewish Cooking)
1 14oz can Sweetened Condsensed Milk
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla

In a medium saucepan on med-high heat combine the condensed milk and chocolate until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and add salt and vanilla stirring well until shiny and satiny. Mixture will thicken as it comes to room temperature.

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