Hamantaschen Central: Local temples make thousands as new recipes sweep nation
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In the weeks leading up to the start of Purim on Saturday, Feb. 23, congregations and temple sisterhoods around the Bay Area held a multitude of hamantaschen baking parties — making thousands of the three-cornered treats for mishloach manot (gift baskets), outreach boxes and post-Megillah-reading gatherings.
The result of three Sunday baking sessions was 1,118 hamantaschen with eight different fillings, including the classics as well as apricot, strawberry and hazelnut-chocolate. Many of the treats were stored in the congregation’s freezer.
Creative cooks are putting new twists on hamantaschen
Just because they’re the same shape doesn’t mean they have the same soul.
Hamantaschen, the Purim season’s traditional triangle-shaped cookie, are traditionally filled with jam or poppyseeds, but the pastry has come a long way since its evil namesake was causing trouble in ancient Persia. From New Orleans, where hamantaschen are filled with pecans and honey, to Texas, where the cookies are stuffed with onions and chili, Jews across the country have reworked the holiday treat to create a new core.
“The greatest thing about hamantaschen is that you can fill them with anything and they’ll taste great,” said San Franciso food blogger Gabi Moskowitz, a former j. cook columnist and the author of the cookbook “Brokeass Gourmet.” “You can really stick anything in there and they’ll still keep the tradition of the Jewish holiday. Even something as simple as Nutella is good.”
Moskowitz’s latest creation is a pomegranate ricotta hamantaschen. The dough is made with cream cheese, giving the pastry a creamy consistency that is light and flaky.
The variations on hamantaschen go beyond cheese and vegetables.
Alison Barnett, a food blogger from Ohio, came up with a Mojito hamantaschen after contemplating the different ways she could expand the holiday’s tradition of merry imbibing. She said her cookies taste like a sugar-rimmed Mojito with a crunch.
Gabi Moskowitz’s Ricotta Pomegranate Cream Cheese Hamantaschen
8 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
3 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
3 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1⁄2 tsp. orange or Meyer lemon zest
11⁄3 cups plus 4 tsp. flour (plus more for rolling)
1⁄4 tsp. salt
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 egg yolk
1⁄4 cup superfine sugar
2 tsp. pomegranate molasses
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 level Tbs. cornstarch
1⁄2 cup dried golden raisins
Cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add sugar and mix for
1 minute. Beat in the egg, vanilla extract, zest and salt. Add the flour, mixing until a sticky dough forms. Form dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour (up to 3 hours).
While the dough chills, make the filling: Place the ricotta in a mixing bowl. Beat in egg yolk, sugar, pomegranate molasses, vanilla, and cornstarch. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the raisins. Chill until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly flour (or line with parchment) 2 baking sheets. Lightly flour a work surface, then roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it is about
1⁄4-inch thick. Use a floured 3-inch cookie cutter (or a wine glass) to cut circles of dough. Gather scraps and re-roll the dough until you have cut all of it into 3-inch circles.
To assemble the hamantaschen, spoon about 1 tsp. of filling in center of a dough circle and fold the dough in from three sides. Gently crimp the corners and twist to ensure they stay closed while baking. Arrange on the prepared cookie sheets and bake until golden-brown, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool completely before serving.
Alison Barnett’s Mojito Hamantaschen
2 cups flour
3⁄4 tsp. baking powder
1⁄8 tsp. salt
1⁄2 cup butter, softened
2⁄3 cup sugar
1 egg yolk (reserve the egg white for assembling the cookie)
1 tsp. vanilla
1-11⁄2 tsp. peppermint oil
1 Tbs. fresh mint leaves, minced
raw sugar (optional)
Lime-Rum Curd Filling:
1 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup butter
1⁄8 cup corn starch
3⁄4 cup fresh lime juice
1 Tbs. lime zest
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbs. rum
Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat butter until creamy. Beat in sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg, egg yolk, vanilla, peppermint oil and mint leaves. Beat in flour mixture until combined. Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 and line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll out refrigerated dough on a lightly floured surface, about 1⁄8-inch thick. Cut rounds until dough is finished. Fill the rounds with the lime-rum curd filling and with your pinky, dip in egg white and lightly wet the edges around the hamantaschen. Make the triangle shape by folding the bottom to make two corners and folding the top to make the third (requires both hands). Brush the outer part of the hamantaschen with egg white and sprinkle on the raw sugar. Bake for about 12 minutes until lightly browned.
Filling: Place the sugar, butter, cornstarch, lime juice, lime zest and rum in a saucepan. Heat the mixture until the butter melts. Pour some of the lime mixture into the eggs and stir together to temper the eggs. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and whisk constantly till mixture starts to boil and thicken. Whisk for about a minute, take off heat and strain into a bowl (this will separate any egg that may have curdled from the curd itself). Refrigerate the curd till ready to use.
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