cartoon by marc johns.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy Purim! Hamantaschen

Wild Blueberry and Four Fruit Hamantaschen - Yum!
So, today was the Jewish holiday Purim.  Purim is kind of like Halloween in that there are costumes.  Like all Jewish holidays, Purim commemorates something that happened to the ancient Jews.  In this case, it celebrates the deliverance of the Jewish people from the destructive plot of the evil Haman.  (It's fun to go to temple on Purim because every time the Rabbi says "Haman," everyone boos loudly and makes lots of noise with their noisemaker.)  Basically, Haman was like the man-in-waiting to King Ahasverus of Persia and he had a plan to kill the Jews.  Fortunately, Queen Esther and Moredechai (who was Queen Esther's adoptive father) figured the plan out and the Jews were saved! (It's a little more complicated than that, but whatever - this is a cooking blog, not a Jewish history blog.)  Purim is one of the most fun holidays as a kid, not only because of the noisemakers in temple, but also because there is always a Purim carnival with rides, etc. where the kids get to go in their costumes.  The girls (myself included) dress almost always as Queen Esther (because she is the only girl in the story) and the boys dress as one of the male characters.
Anyway, the reason I am telling you all of this is because I made hamantaschen (pronounced ha-men-tash-en) today to celebrate Purim.  What are hamentaschen?  They are triangular cookies with fruit filling.  Really, you can put any filling you want into the triangular pockets, but traditionally it is fruit (raspberry, apricot, or prune) or poppyseed.  I made a 4 fruit flavor (with raspberry, strawberry, cherry, and lingonberry) and a wild blueberry flavor.  The reason I learned as to why the cookies are triangular is because they are supposed to represent the hat that evil Haman wore, but there are also other explanations out there.  

Now, on to the recipe!!  I adapted this recipe from allrecipes.com. It makes about 40 cookies.

4 eggs
1 tablespoon milk
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup orange juice
5 cups of flour (I used 3 cups of all-purpose flour and 2 cups of white whole wheat flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1 to 2 jars of fruit preserves (flavor of your choice) 

On to the baking:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease some cookie sheets.
2. Whip the butter and sugar together.  
The butter an sugar all fluffy.
3.   Add 3 of the eggs.  (Make sure to reserve one egg for later!)
4. Beat the mixture again.  Zest one small lemon (until you get about a teaspoon of zest).  Add the zest and the vanilla extract.
Added lemon zest and vanilla extract.
5. Add the orange juice and vegetable oil and blend again.
Added orange juice and vegetable oil.
6. Blend the flour into the dough one cup at a time until it is the desired thickness.  I ended up using 5 cups, so that is what I put in the ingredients list, but it may be plus or minus half a cup.  (The white whole wheat flour I use is thicker and denser than all-purpose flour, so you may have to use more if you use only all-purpose flour.)
The first cup of flour.
After the third cup of flour. 
A close-up of the final dough.  
7. On a floured counter surface, roll out the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick (or a little less).  Using a drinking glass or a round cookie cutter, cut out circles of the dough.
The rolled out dough. 
Cookie cutter! 
Just for size reference, a picture of a cookie circle with my hand.
8.  Put the circles on the cookie sheets and then put about 1 teaspoon of preserves in the center of each circle.
Circles with preserves in their centers.
9. Beat the final egg with 1 tablespoon of milk.  With your fingers put the egg/ milk mixture on the edge of each circle.  Just moisten the edges.  This prevents the preserves from leaking out during baking.
The egg and milk beaten.
10.  Fold the circles into triangles, pinching the corners.
Step One: fold up the back of the cookie.
Step Two: fold the final side, tucking the preserves into the cookie.
The finished, folded triangles.
11. Bake the triangulated cookies in the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Allow to rest on cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Enjoy!

The final product (four fruit flavor).

The final product (wild blueberry flavor).


  1. I love these but have never, in all the baking I've done, made them. Maybe it's finally time.

    1. It's time. Did you make em for Passover last year? How'd it go?


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