Skip to comments.How to Make: Hamantaschen
Posted on 02/27/2013 2:58:31 PM PST by nickcarraway
Hamantaschen, Purims best-known treat, are the M.I.A. of pastries many controversies, some political and some trivial, swirl around them. I would prefer to sidestep most of these controversies. Lets not talk about the unsavory, genocide-friendly implications of the Purim story. Lets not argue about what exactly hamantaschen are supposed to symbolize, either. (The word means Hamans pockets, a nod to the corrupt nature of the villain of the Book of Esther, but the triangular pastries are also said to resemble Hamans hat, or, more abstractly, the three Israelite patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.) Lets not even enter into the ongoing, decades-old Latke-Hamantash debate, except to say that if youre an unthinking member of Team Latke, you clearly have never had a good hamantasch.
Instead, lets talk about something we should all be able to agree on: what constitutes a good hamantasch. For one thing, it contains poppy seeds, not prunes, chocolate, jam or any other number of inferior fillings. (Prunes, chocolate, and jam are great, but hamantaschen are neither the time nor the place for them.) Also, its a cookie, not a pyramid of crumbly pie crust.
This latter point shouldnt be an area of contention, and yet it is. Few people still make hamantaschen dough the old-fashioned way, with yeast, because that approach is lose-lose: It requires extra time and effort to knead and raise the dough, and the results are dull compared to cookies. However, plenty of people make hamantaschen dough with cream cheese, which sounds great on paper but results in an arid cookie that breaks easily into shards. Others add orange juice to their dough, even though adding liquid to cookie dough is always a bad idea. (If youre going to add orange juice to cookie dough, you may as well abort the hamantaschen and make orange cake instead.)
Enough of this funny business.
For moist, buttery hamantaschen, you need a straightforward, rich, shortbread-like cookie dough. You can add orange zest for citrus flavor, but save the orange juice for your poppy-seed filling (and save the cream cheese for your poppy-seed bagel). To make the dough solid enough to roll out without sticking, but not so dense that the finished cookies are brittle, limit your all-purpose flour, and supplement with almond flour.
Almond flour makes an appearance in the poppy-seed filling, too, as it heightens the seeds nutty flavor and helps thicken the filling into a sweet, sticky, irresistible paste. Finding and preparing your poppy seeds for the filling are the hardest parts of making hamantaschen. If you want a reasonable quantity of the opium byproduct, youll have to order the seeds online or visit a specialty store that sells them in bulk. (Try your local Indian, Middle Eastern, or Eastern European market.) Otherwise, youll have to avail yourself of the poppy seeds packaged in petite, cylindrical jars found in the spice aisle at many supermarkets. (Keep in mind that a 2.5-ounce jar of seeds contains about 1/2 cup.)
When youve got them home, youll want to partially grind your poppy seeds to release their oils and thickening compounds. Before processing the poppy seeds, rid your coffee or spice grinder of lingering aromas by grinding up some uncooked rice and then wiping it out with a damp paper towel.
I think I’d rather have a kolache. I buy mine in LaGrange, TX.......
My Brother worked two Summers at a Jewish camp in upstate New York.
I remember he said they treated him really well but he just about couldn’t take the food.
Tamar would probably put kimchi filling in it!
Worthy a try. The local farmer’s market was selling sauerkraut in pretzel bread, but the baker moved back to Germany.
I make my own sauerkraut every fall . I will be trying some in my next batch of pretzels !
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