Friday, March 21, 2008
Like little parcels of delight, these hamentashen have a hard time deciding whether it's a pastry or a cookie. So we'll call it a pastrookie. Traditionally eaten during Purim, these triangular pastrookies are shaped after the three-cornered hats worn by Haman, the antagonist in the Book of Esther. That's the extent of my knowledge on the history and origin of these Jewish goodies; but I do know just how delicious they are. I ate enough of them during college to make me an expert. There was a small cafe outside the campus library that fully serviced my hamentash needs. My personally favorite filling is poppy seed, a sweetened paste called mohn, followed by apricot and date. I've also seen them filled with cherries, prunes and chocolate.
The dough is a cross between a sugar cookie and a shortbread, producing a soft, sweet interior with a crispy, butter crust. Need I say more?
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
1 recipe mohn (see below)
1. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, with a mixer, cream together butter and sugar, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla until incorporated.
2. Alternately add in the flour and milk until a dough comes together. Turn it out onto a work surface and form into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for about 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 375F. Roll out the dough on a floured board into a disc of 1/4" thickness. With a 2-3" cookie cutter or rim of a glass, cut out circles of dough. Dollop a tablespoon of mohn or fruit jam onto the center of each. Gently fold in the sides of each circle into a triangle and seal the corners well.
4. Lay the triangles out 2" apart on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden. Cool on a rack.
Mohn (Poppyseed Filling)
1/2 cup boiling water
2 oz. poppy seeds
3/4 cup whole milk
2 1/2 Tbsp honey or sugar
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup coarsely ground walnuts
2 Tbsp raisins, chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
1. Steep poppy seeds in water overnight. Drain well. Finely grind the seeds with a coffee grinder.
2. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and poppy seeds. Simmer for 15 minutes to reduce down the milk until it has the consistency of heavy cream. Stir in the honey, butter and raisins and simmer for another 5 minutes. Finally stir in the walnuts and lemon juice. Let cool.