Blogging to: Les Miserables Original London Cast…in honor of the Oscars
Purim was yesterday and to celebrate the season, I made hamantaschen. And I’m happy to report that this is a legitimate recipe from my grandmother. Now, I don’t mean to say that any of the recipes I have from my grandmother are illegitimate, but rather…this is actually classified as a “grandmother’s recipe.” I’m glad we cleared all this up.
For those not in the know, hamantaschen are traditional cookies eaten during the Jewish holiday of Purim. If I were to jot down all the memories I have of Purim from my old Hebrew school days, here’s what you would get:
1. Jewish Halloween…kids dress in costumes, but I can’t remember why.
2. Haman was the bad guy.
3. Esther was the good girl (or, at least the heroine).
4. Haman wore a three-cornered hat, and that’s why hamantaschen are shaped as such.
5. Groggers!! Lots of noise makers whenever Haman’s name was read during the sermon. He must have been a really bad guy.
If you need some more religious background responsible for this cookie, you can read more about it here.
Now, like all the other recipes my grandmother left me, I never actually saw her make these. But that didn’t stop me from trying to read her handwriting and figure out how to make them myself.
To start, cube up some cold butter and throw it into a big ol’ batch of flour. Grandma used Crisco, but sorry…that ain’t happening in my house.
Disclaimer: Since this recipe is rather involved, there are quite a few images for this post. My apologies for the length.
If you had a pastry cutter or food processor, this is where you’d save yourself the agita and use those devices. I, of course, was lazy. Instead, I used the tips of my fingers to kind of break up the butter into the flour so you get these weird crumb thingies.
Throw in the rest of the ingredients: sugar, eggs, and the secret ingredient – pineapple juice! The key is to buy the 6-pack of Dole pineapple juice cans (6 oz. each). Use half of one can, have your husband drink the rest of the can, and keep the other 5 cans in your cabinet until next Purim. Then, when Purim rolls around the following year, you’ll find the 5 cans…to go with the 6 new cans you just bought because you couldn’t remember whether you had any cans in the house already. Ugh.
Warning: this dough is some sticky sticky stuff. Turn it out onto a well-floured surface. I’m telling you right now that no matter how much flour you put on the board – it wasn’t enough.
Once you’ve gotten the dough globs off your sticky fingers, gather it up into a smooth ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill. My grandmother suggested you refrigerate it overnight, but I never plan that far ahead. I stuck it in the freezer for 30 minutes. That seemed to do the trick.
While the dough is chilling, we must discuss fillings. Traditionally, I’ve always seen hamantaschen with the following fillings: poppy, prune, apricot, and a red flavor of some sort…usually raspberry. My favorite (and my mother’s favorite) has and always will be poppy, so that’s what I made here. In fact, Solo (sorry for the blurry picture) is the only brand I’ve ever seen make poppy filling. And this is the only time of year I buy the stuff. Feel free to use whatever flavors you’d like.
And there is no way in hell I’d ever make my own filling from scratch for these particular cookies. Why? Because the dough is such a pain in the tush to work with! Trust me: after wrestling with this dough for 45 minutes, you’ll have no problem using the stuff in the can.
Let’s discuss cookie cutters. Sure, you could use them. But why go out and buy a cookie cutter when you have a perfectly round 4-inch-in-diameter coffee cup from your alma mater that can do the job just as well?
When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out to about 1/8 of an inch thick. I suck at determining inches, so however thick this is…this is what you’re going for. (As a side note, oooh….look at all those butter flecks in the dough!)
Make sure you put some parchment paper on a baking sheet. Then, place the hamantaschen rounds on the sheet while you bust out the can opener and crack open that yummy poppy filling.
Then we’re going to dollop a little mound of the filling (about a teaspoon) into the center of each hamantaschen round. Don’t put too much! When these things heat up, the filling will ooze and spread, so a teaspoon is probably the max you’d want to go with here.
Next, we fold!! Make sure you get yourself a little ramekin of water. Dip your finger in the water and wet the entire edge of the round. Carefully fold up each side into a triangle. With the water, make sure to seal the corners really well…otherwise the filling will escape.
Once you’ve got your hamantaschen army ready for the oven, which you’ve already preheated to 400 degrees, pop them in there for about 20 minutes until the bottoms just start to turn a hint of brown.
These hamantaschen are the classic Purim cookie. Use any flavor pie filling you like for these yummy treats.
- 3 cups flour
- 6 tbsp butter
- 3 oz pineapple juice
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 can of poppy pie filling (or any filling you'd like)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender, food processor, or the tips of your fingers. The resulting mixture should resemble coarse crumbs.
- Add the eggs, pineapple juice, and sugar. Mix until combined.
- Dump the dough out onto a well-floured work surface. Roll into a ball and chill in the refrigerator overnight (or in the freezer for about 30 minutes).
- Roll out the dough onto a well-floured work surface. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch thick.
- Using a cookie cutter or coffee cup, cut out circles that are about 4 inches in diameter.
- Place 1 tsp of poppy filling into the center of each circle.
- With wet fingers, roll up the edges of the circle to form a triangle. Pinch each corner and sell them well, so no filling leaks out during baking.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until the bottoms are just barely golden brown. Cool on a rack and serve.