Tag Archives: Book of Esther

It’s hamentasch time!

11 Feb
Hamentaschen

The Jewish holiday of Purim is in just two weeks, so I thought I’d reprise my recipe for hamentaschen, the three-cornered fruit-filled cookies that are popular for this holiday. (One cookie is a hamentasch.)

Instead of the usual photos, this year I have a video for you, thanks to my very talented future daughter-in-law, Grace Vant Hof. My synagogue, Congregation Beth Shalom, asked if I would do a Zoom cooking demo for their online Purim carnival this year. I’m not confident enough of my Zoom skills to do this “live” so I offered to enlist Grace and make a short vid.

Purim is described in the Book of Esther, which is short and easy to read, and you should get out your Bible if you’re not familiar with it. The day celebrates the deliverance of the Jews of Persia from an evil plot to exterminate them (something that pretty much sums up most of Jewish history). The cookie’s name comes from the story’s villain, Haman, and is said to mimic the shape of his hat, though in Yiddish the word means “Haman’s pockets” (and in Israel, they call them “oznei Haman,” Haman’s ears.)

On this holiday it’s customary to exchange gifts of food. When our kids were younger and we distributed dozens of food packages, each with four to six hamentaschen, I would double this recipe and make at least two double batches. This year we are pretty much foregoing the package distribution – it’s part laziness and part realizing that most of our friends, like us, do not need gifts of sweets this year – so I only made the one batch.

I still think this recipe makes the best hamentaschen! We have received many different versions of these cookies, and to my mind there’s only one friend whose recipe (quite different) rivals this one in taste.

Watch the vid to hear the stories about where this recipe came from, as well as some tips on how to make them. It’s just under 13 minutes.

Ingredients:

2½ cups flour
2½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
⅓ cup vegetable shortening
½ cup sugar
¼ cup honey
1 Tbs. lemon juice
2 eggs
1 can Solo fruit or poppy pastry filling

Directions:

Sift dry ingredients together. Cream shortening and sugar. Add honey and lemon juice and mix well. Add part of flour, then eggs, then rest of flour. Dough should be soft enough to form a ball but not stickyDirections:

Preheeat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out on a floured board, cut out rounds using a cookie cutter or glass (dip edge into flour). Place a half-teaspoon of filling in the center of each piece, then pinch into a three-cornered shape. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack.

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies

Hamentaschen

8 Mar

HamentaschenI just bought a can of Solo pie filling for my annual hamentasch bake. With Purim coming up in just a few weeks, I thought I’d rerun my recipe for hamentaschen, which I offered you three years ago. It’s a winner! The dough is sweet but not too sweet, and you can roll it out thin.

The Jewish festival of Purim commemorates the events told in the Book of Esther. The three-cornered shape is supposed to represent Haman’s hat, though the word means “Haman’s pockets” in Yiddish.

My mother wasn’t much of a cook, but she baked these hamentaschen every year. She got the recipe from our neighbor in Northeast Philadelphia, Ida Silver. In 2007, I read a Hadassah magazine article by Judy Davis, Ida’s oldest child, called “My Mother’s Hamentaschen.” But the recipe in the magazine was not my mother’s recipe!

I hadn’t seen Judy in at least 40 years but I tracked her down and emailed her. In her response she admitted it the recipe not her mother’s, which she either never had or lost. “But I would love to see my mother’s recipe if you would be willing to email it to me,” she wrote. “I must have had a copy at some time, though I have no memory of it….I love the idea of your mother having used her recipe (it means my mother must have shared some of them with her), and I love that it is being handed down to the next generation.”

I think my daughter has begun making these as well, with help from her daughter, continuing the tradition.

Pinching hamentaschen into a three-cornered shape

Pinch the hamentaschen into a three-cornered shape

Like my mother, I don’t use a board to roll out the dough. I cover the kitchen table with an old sheet and work some flour into it and use that as my workspace.

The recipe can easily be doubled.

Ingredients:

2½ cups flour
2½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
⅓ cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup sugar
¼ cup honey
1 Tbs. lemon juice
2 eggs
1 can Solo fruit or poppy pastry filling

Directions:

Sift dry ingredients together. Cream shortening and sugar. Add honey and lemon juice and mix well. Add part of flour, then eggs, then rest of flour. Dough should be soft enough to form a ball but not stickyDirections:

Preheeat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out on a floured board, cut out rounds using a cookie cutter or glass (dip edge into flour). Place a half-teaspoon of filling in the center of each piece, then pinch into a three-cornered shape. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack.

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies