For this weeks project, we are making Hamentaschen to celebrate the Jewish Holiday Purim.
So what is Purim, and why we eating Hamentaschen?
The heroes of the story are Esther, a beautiful young Jewish woman living in Persia, and her cousin Mordecai, who raised her. Esther was taken to the house of the King of Persia which was reserved for all his women. The King loved Esther more than his other women and made Esther Queen, but the King did not know that Esther was Jewish because Mordecai told her not to reveal her identity.
Haman was the Prime Minister of the Persian Empire 2,400 years ago . Haman hated Mordecai because he refused to bow down to him. Mordecai refused to bow because Haman plotted to kill all the Jewish people. Haman told the king that the Jewish people violated the Kings’ Laws, therefore they should all be killed. The King let Haman to do as he pleased to the Jewish people and Haman planned to exterminate all of the Jews. (“Pur” is the Persian word for plots.)
Mordecai convinced Esther to speak to the King and expose her identity. This was a dangerous move for Esther to do because she could be sentenced to death. Esther fasted for three days to prepare herself and then went into the King. The King welcomed her and she later told him of Hamans’ plot against her people. The Jewish people were then saved and Haman and his ten sons were hanged on the gallows that had been prepared by Mordecai.
To celebrate, each year kids and adults wear costumes of Esteher and Mordechai. Some wear costumes of Haman 🙂 and we also send each other baked goods, donate money to the poor and read the “Book of Estehr”. This annual celebration is to commemorate the deliverance of the Jews from the massacre planned for them by Haman.
All this may sound wonderful but, what is Hamentasch? It’s a Yiddish word for Hamans’ hat, hence the tringle shape of the cookie, but I was raised with a much, much different explanation…The triangle shape of the cookie is to resemble the shape of Haman ears! Not so appetizing right?…so lets just stick to Hamans hat!
I grew up with homemade “Haman Ears” every year…I mean “Hamentasch”, so naturally this weeks project was very easy to complete. Going through Rose’ recipe I could right away recognize the differences between my Moms recipe vs Rose Levy Beranbaums’ recipe. So I am very curious to see how these gems are going to turn out…So let’s get started!
I never made apricot lekvar, so I went on and started with making the apricot lekvar (for the recipe go to P.360).
I used organic not sulfured apricots, and replaced the brandy with an almond extract.When the lekvar was ready I took a small taste of it, the flavor reminded me of dates paste that I used to fill my cookies with.
Then I started making the sweet cookie crust. I knew I will have a big fans for this cookies so I went ahead and doubled the recipe, just to be on the sure side (a.k.a lemon posset). Rose uses a Turbinado sugar compared to my Mom’s recipe which uses regular sugar or powdered sugar. we also, use Margarine to keep it Parve or coconut oil, but butter is always better, and truly the best time to eat desert is for breakfast.
After I finished making the dough I sent it for a quick rest in the refrigerator.and Since I doubled my recipe I also, doubled the Poppy seed filling.
For a variety I also made a lekvar filling. I took one cup of the lekvar mixed it with 1/2 cup of roasted pecan, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and a dash of ginger. I then rolled out the dough, to create a hat shape but, they must be pressed firmly toward the center filling to avoid a collapsed dough, less filling will be seen. (rose recommend to use two metal spatulas to re- form the shape of the cookies, but i found that with some of the cookies it’s breaks them)
Traditionally Hamentasch is a pale cookie with a browned bottom, but Rose makes an egg glaze for the cookies. I decided for the last 1/2 batch of the cookies not to glaze them, and instead rolling the dough in flour, I rolled them in poppy seeds for a beauty touch. When they all finally were ready to eat, we first notice how the dough is very light and the filling wasn’t too sweet like other hamantaschen we tried in the past….the poppy seed had a lemony hint to it, which brought a fresh end to it. We also liked the flakiness of the dough, it had a pie like texture but sweeter. We loved the lekvar filling as well but, the poppy seed will be our all time favorite.
After all Haman’s ears taste really good…Mmm