Purim has many food traditions. Among them is the custom of giving friends and relatives a gift basket of food known as mishloach manot. The giver is ensuring the recipient has enough food for a Purim feast. Another tradition is to donate to the poor, and some have combined the two traditions into food drives and donations to food banks.
The recipes below were designed to be made for a Purim basket or baked ahead for a Purim party. The crispy Lemon–Olive Oil Mandelbrot cookies stand up to a dunking in tea or even a bit of sweet wine. Be sure to label the Spicy Hamantaschen Bites, an appetizer twist on the traditional Purim cookie, so your recipient knows this treat has some heat.
To donate to a local food bank or drive, contact Bay Area Hunger at www.bayarea
hunger.org. Or drop off nonperishable food items for the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco’s Purim Food Drive at 3200 California St. from Feb. 15 to 25. For more information, call (415) 292-1200.
Lemon–Olive Oil Mandelbrot
Makes about 24
2⁄3 cup sugar
1⁄2 tsp. lemon oil
1⁄4 tsp. almond extract
1 Tbs. grated, minced lemon zest
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12⁄3 cup flour, plus extra
1 tsp. baking powder
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1 cup blanched, sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Use spray to grease two baking sheets. In a mixer bowl, combine eggs and sugar on high speed until pale yellow and thickened. Stir in lemon oil, almond extract, lemon zest and olive oil.
In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the egg and sugar mixture in
3 batches, making sure each batch is combined before adding the next. Beat at medium speed until smooth, and stir in the almonds (dough will be stiff). Sprinkle flour on work surface. Dough will be sticky, so oil or wet hands. Shape dough into
2 loaves, each about 10 inches long, 11⁄2 inches wide and 1 inch tall. Using spatula if needed, transfer to center of prepared pans. Pat back into shape.
Bake 25 minutes or until golden and top crust has small cracks. Let cool slightly. Transfer loaves to cutting board and cut into 3⁄4-inch slices. Lay slices flat side down on pans, return to hot oven and bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on rack. Mandelbrot will crisp as it cools.
Spicy Hamantaschen Bites
2 cups flour, plus extra
2 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbs. sugar
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1⁄4 tsp. ground black pepper
1⁄4 lb. margarine or butter (1 stick), at room temperature and cut into small pieces
2 eggs, beaten
About 1⁄4 cup strained jalapeño or other pepper jelly
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. With a pastry blender or two forks, cut in margarine until the dough is in pieces about the size of lentils. Mix in eggs. Mix until the dough forms a ball, using hands to knead together if needed.
Sprinkle flour on work surface and roll out dough 1⁄4 inch thick. Cut into circles with a round cookie cutter or small glass about 21⁄2 to 23⁄4 inches in diameter. Gather scraps, reroll them and cut out additional circles.
Fill the center of each circle with 1⁄2 tsp. jelly (do not overfill). Push up 3 sides to form triangles, firmly pinching so the cookies maintain their shape during baking. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove cookies and cool on rack.
Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. She blogs at www.clickblogappetit.com. Contact her at email@example.com.