There are many beautiful insights into the story of Purim; one is that it celebrates a miracle that presents itself as part of the natural order.
According to Hasidic teachings, there are two kinds of miracles: those which are “hidden” and those which are “revealed.” The story of Purim does not include remarkable events like the splitting of the Red Sea (Passover), or a small amount of oil that somehow lasted eight nights (Hanukkah). Yet miracles that appear ordinary are actually more profound than miracles that break the laws of nature.
Some might not connect the events in the story of Purim with the Divine: Esther outwitting the king, Haman being hanged, the Jews getting their revenge. But we can also think of the “random” happenings of our life as divinely inspired, and recognize and be grateful for the many hidden miracles that scatter our days and nights. This is one of the messages of Purim.
Purim is also known as a holiday of masks and costumes. They conceal one’s identity just like the dough of the hamantaschen covers and conceals the fruit filling, and just as the story of Purim conceals God’s name, which does not appear anywhere in the Megillah scroll.
In our home, the spirit of Purim can be felt weeks before as kids bring out costumes bedazzled in gemstones, glitter and jewels. Mounds of hamantaschen dough and all the options for sweet and savory fillings fill our happy busy kitchen with laughter, love and sticky little hands.
Hamantaschen are a pocket pastry traditionally filled with sesame or poppy seeds. In Yiddish, poppy seeds are called “mohn,” and pockets are called “taschen,” The name “mohn-taschen” eventually evolved into hamantaschen. Nowadays, hamantaschen are filled with all types of jellies, jams and even chocolate.
Purim is celebrated on the 14th of Adar. This year it begins on Wednesday, March 20 and continues through the next day. So, clear a day in the calendar, and call it a baking hamantaschen kind of day!
This is my favorite recipe, one we have used in our family for years and adapted to our culinary preferences. It has won the hearts (and taste buds!) of many hamantaschen eaters. You can roll the dough really thin for a crunchy dough, which I prefer, or keep it a little thicker for a softer hamantasch. This is a no-fuss recipe and is quite forgiving, so go ahead and have fun!
The Best Hamantaschen
Makes about 2 dozen
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup apple juice
- 3-4 cups flour (I use Gold Medal all-purpose)
- 4 tsp. baking powder
Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar, oil, eggs and apple juice until well blended. Add the flour (no need to sift) and baking powder and blend until all the ingredients come together in a smooth, textured dough.
Take the dough out of the mixer and wrap in plastic wrap in a flat disk (any dimension and size is fine). Chill for 30 minutes or more.
Roll out dough, approximately ¼-inch thick, onto a floured surface (a light dusting of flour should be fine; if it sticks to the counter or surface, simply add more flour).
Using the rim of a 4-inch glass or cookie cutter, cut as many round cookies from your dough as possible. Fill each round with about 1 Tbs. of the filling of your choice.
Form hamantaschen by bringing three “edges” of cookie dough toward the middle, pinching gently to form a triangle around your filling. It’s OK if the filling is not fully covered by dough. No egg wash is needed.
Bake on any size cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper, leaving 2-3 inches of space around each hamantaschen. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden brown on edges.