Sunday, March 20, 2011
Happy Purim! Chag Purim Sameach! To be completely honest, I wasn't sure I'd even get around to making homemade hamentaschen this year. But there's something about this annual tradition that if missed, would make the holiday feel a little empty for me.
So I did it. But I didn't go back to one of the fantastic recipes I'd made in the past (here, here, and here). I wanted to use this once-a-year opportunity to choose a recipe from a different cookbook. So I sifted through my Jewish dessert cookbooks and decided on Gil Marks ' The World of Jewish Desserts. His dough was fantastic. Easy to work with, beautifully flecked with orange zest, and held its shape when baked.
I chose to make three fillings: apricot, chocolate, and poppy seed. But I did an interesting thing before I ended up with those filling choices. I posted an unofficial poll to my Facebook page. Apparently my friends have very strong, passionate feelings toward their hamentaschen fillings! 37 comments later, I had a fair amount of data. A couple of peculiar votes like pegasus meat, children's tears, and smaller hamentaschen (that is pure genius) made their way onto the list, but mostly it was your usual chocolate, fruit, and poppy seed filling votes.
Here's my Facebook post:
And here are the results, graphed, coming to you thanks to the Happy Go Marni Research Department:
Despite a lot of anti-poppy seed sentiment in this Facebook poll, it still ended up being the most popular filling! Apricot was extremely popular too, and without any real negative comments. Chocolate seemed like a no-brainer, but I was surprised it had so many fewer votes than poppy seed and apricot. What's wrong with you people! Why isn't chocolate number one? Ok actually, I love all three of the top winners, and those are the three I made! I think I'll save pegasus meat for another year. ;)
What's your favorite hamentaschen filling?
Adapted from a recipe by Gil Marks in The World of Jewish Desserts
Makes sixty 3-inch cookies
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 cup orange juice, milk, or water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract, or 1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons grated lemon or orange zest (optional)
About 2 cups hamentaschen filling (the sky's the limits, as you can see from the Happy Go Marni poll above)
Golden Egg Wash (recipe below)
Coarse sugar for decorating, optional
Sift the dry ingredients together: the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a stand mixer, beat the butter or margarine until smooth, about 1 minute. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the liquid (orange juice, milk, or water), extract, and optional zest. On low speed, add in the flour just until combined. The dough will be soft, not too dense. Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge until firm, about 2 hours. You can leave it overnight, too. When you're ready to shape the dough, remove from the fridge and let sit out a few minutes to become malleable (won't take very long because it's a soft dough).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Divide the dough into thirds. Return the other two chunks to the fridge so they don't get too soft. With the remaining third, roll it out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured dough board or waxed paper to about 1/8 inch thick. If you prefer thicker dough, roll to about 3/8 inch thick. Using a 2 1/2 or 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut circles out of the dough. Save the scraps to roll out again and make more cookies.
Place 1 teaspoon of filling in the center of each round. Bring three corners of each round up toward the top, pinching two points together to form one corner, then continuing until you have three corners. I like to leave some of the filling exposed, not only because it's pretty to see some color peeking out, but because then you'll know which filling it has if you are making more than one filling! If when you pinch the edges together they don't stick well, rub a little cold water on the dough to act as glue. Place 1 inch apart on parchment or silicone baking mat-lined baking sheets.
Prepare Golden Egg Wash (see recipe below). Brush egg wash on all sides of each unbaked cookie with a pastry brush. Sprinkle with coarse sugar if you'd like.
Bake until golden, 15-20 minutes depending on your oven. I prefer my cookies a little chewy, so I err on the side of less baking time. Transfer to a rack to cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. The cookies will keep for about one week, or you can freeze them as soon as they've cooled and they'll be good for several months.
Golden Egg Wash
Recipe from my March 2010 hamentaschen post (Marcy Goldman's incredible recipe!)
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1-2 tablespoons milk or water
Pinch of sugar
In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients. Use a pastry brush to glaze or brush on prepared, unbaked hamentaschen.
Step-by-Step in Pictures
Beat butter or margarine until smooth...
Add sugar and beat until incorporated...
Add the eggs, one at a time...
Add the juice, vanilla, and zest...
Add the dry ingredients (which you had sifted together first)...
Beat just until incorporated...
Wrap the dough in plastic and chill in fridge...
Roll out the dough, a third at a time...
Cut 2 1/2 or 3-inch rounds in the dough...
Add a teaspoon of filling to the center of each round and fold up the sides to form a triangle...
Continue with the remaining two-thirds of the dough and any other fillings you want to try...
Brush with Golden Egg Wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar if you'd like...
Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, then let cool on a rack...