The Jewish holiday of Purim was established, it is said, upon the day(s) that Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther (also Jewish, Mordecai’s adopted daughter) triumphed over the evil Haman (the King’s council), whose plot was to have all the Jewish people in the kingdom killed. Queen Esther prevailed upon the King to reverse the order, and he did, establishing that on this day, Jews would be allowed to kill their enemies instead. Much rejoicing (and slaughtering!) ensued. Mordecai and Esther then declared that Jewish people should keep this day as a day of celebration throughout the ages.
Today, many Jewish people celebrate Purim by reading the book of Esther, and bringing food to their friends and family, including the traditional pastry, hamantashen, Yiddish for “Haman’s ears.”
Interestingly, I have never had hamentashen before, even having grown up Jewish. They are so beloved that I couldn’t pass up making them this year. Well, who am I kidding? I can’t pass up an opportunity to make cookies pretty much any time.
The pastry dough I made for these was delicious, but the two fillings I made (poppyseed/raisin, and coconut) were sort of “eh.” The ones we filled with Nutella and homemade tangelo marmelade, however, were delicious.
Hamantashen (makes about 24 cookies)
- 1 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 c. whole wheat flour
- 3/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1 egg
- 6 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- about 2/3 c. filling of your choice (traditional choices include poppyseed, fig, date, and prune, but you can really use anything)
- Combine flours, baking powder and sugar in a food processor and pulse a few times to blend. Beat egg with oil in a small bowl and add to the processor with lemon zest. Pulse to combine.
- Add lemon juice 1 tbsp. at a time, pulsing after both additions. Dough should be sticky. Press into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
- Remove dough from refrigerator and let sit 30 minutes.
- Roll out dough, one half at a time, about 1/8″ thick. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut out rounds of dough. Place about a teaspoon of filling in the center of each, and shape the hamantashen by pulling up three sides of the circle over the filling and pressing together. Pinch the seams to seal.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake about 15 minutes or until golden brown.