International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Hamantaschen

Hamantaschen (Israeli, Jewish filled pastries)

(Israeli Jewish filled tricorner Purim pastries)

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Purim is a spring holiday on the Jewish calendar commemorating Queen Esther's rescue of Persian Jews from mass slaughter at the hands of the evil Haman. Ashkenazi Jews traditionally celebrated the two-day holiday with mohntaschen, "poppyseed pockets," a simple pastry sweet. Over time this three-cornered confection took on the name of the nemesis in the Torah story. The three sides are said to represent the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Also spelled hamentaschen, homentashen, homentaschen, humentashen. The singular is hamantasch. Known as oznei Haman, Hebrew for Haman's ears, in Israel.

Makes about 3 dozen hamantaschen

Ingredients

  • Eggs, beaten -- 2
  • Sugar -- 3/4 cup
  • Salt -- pinch
  • Butter, margarine or shortening, cut into pieces -- 3/4 cup
  • Flour -- 2 1/2 cups
  • Baking powder -- 1 teaspoon
  • Filling (see Variations) -- 2 cups

Method

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder and set aside.
  2. Add the eggs, sugar and salt to the bowl of a mixer and beat until light in color and the sugar is dissolved. Add the butter, margarine or shortening and continue beating until it is incorporated. Reduce beater speed to slow, and slowly add the flour, continuing to beat just until the whole mass comes together.
  3. Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead once or twice. Then flatten into a disc, wrap with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the chilled dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll out to about 1/4-inch thick. Cut into 3-inch rounds. Place a scant tablespoon of your chosen filling in the middle of each round. Bring up three sides of the dough to form a triangle, gently pinching together the corners.
  5. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool completed and store in a well sealed container.

Hamantaschen Variations

  • Poppyseed Filling: Poppyseed is the most traditional filling. Place 2 cups poppyseeds, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup honey, 1/4 cup sugar and a dash of salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to cook over medium flame, stirring often to prevent burning, until thickened. Stir in 1/2 cup of finely chopped walnuts if you like.
  • Prune Filling: A very common filling, also known as povidle. Place 2 cups of pitted prunes and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan. Bring the prunes and water to a slow simmer until the prunes are very soft 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in about 1 cup of sugar and simmer for another 3 or 4 minutes. Set aside to cool. Puree in a blender or food processor. Adjust sugar to taste and use for filling. You can also stir in 1/2 cup of finely chopped walnuts if you like. Add some breadcrumbs if the prune puree is too thin.
  • Apricot Filling: Use 2 cups of apricot preserves. Stir in some finely chopped walnuts if you like.
  • Dough Variations: Add 1 or 2 teaspoons of lemon or orange zest to the dough. Some recipes substitute honey for some of the sugar. Others substitute vegetable oil for the solid fats.
  • For a shiny finish, brush the hamantaschen with an egg beaten with a little milk before placing them in the oven.

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