Hamantaschen for Purim

Please enjoy the first guest post on Bakers & Best, courtesy of my dad!

It’s Purim time – the celebration of Queen Esther and the defeat of the evil Haman.  It’s also time for Hamantaschen, the traditional filled cookies.  Translated, it means “Haman pockets” but generally they are known for the three corner triangular shape said to resemble Haman’s hat.

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Most often, they are filled with a sweet poppyseed filling (you buy it in the can) but you can fill them with just about any sort of preserves and are often seen with raspberry, strawberry, prune, or apricot preserves.  If you use the canned poppyseed filling, I recommend adding orange rind.  I add a few chocolate chips to each as well.  They come in different sizes – some the size of your hand, looking like a turnover.  These are smaller, more like cookies with a flatter texture.

Hamantaschen (Makes about 6 dozen)

Ingredients

  • 3 C sifted AP flour and extra, as needed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C vegetable oil
  • 1/2 C no-pulp orange juice
  • 1/4 C margarine or butter, room temperature
  • 3 T baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt 
  • 1/2 to 3/4 t orange rind
  • 12.5 oz poppy seed filling
  • Strawberry, raspberry, or other fruit preserves
  • Chocolate chips

Directions

Begin by creaming together in a large bowl by the sugar and margarine until smooth.  I recommend mixing all of this by hand.  Add one third each of the salt, flour, baking powder, orange juice and oil and one egg, and mix until smooth.  Add the second third of the flour, oil, etc and egg and mix until smooth.  Add the remainder and mix until smooth.  It was never clear to me why to do it this way, but that’s the way the recipe was handed down and it seems to work.  It is certainly less messy.

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At this point, you will have a very wet dough, one that you can’t do much with.  Begin adding additional flour to the mixture in the bowl and mix until the dough is a little sticky but also pliant, bouncing back when you push it with your finger.  It will likely take another ¾ to 1 cup (beyond the 3 cups you already added) of flour before you get dough you can work with.

Choose a surface to roll out the dough on.  I have a granite counter, cold at this time of year, which is perfect.  I recommend a marble rolling pin as well.  It’s important that the dough not get too warm.  Break off about ¼ to 1/3 of the ball of dough, cover the rest and put it in the refrigerator.

Flatten the ball with your palm.  You may need to work more flour into the dough, depending on its consistency.  It should not be too dry but also not stick to the rolling pin.  When it’s right, lightly dust the surface of the counter and the top of the dough with flour and roll out as thinly as possible, almost transparent but with no holes or weak spots – between 1/16 and 1/8 inch thick.

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Take a circular shape with a diameter of about 3 to 3 ½ inches to cut circles in the dough.  I use a round drinking class with a 3 ¼ inch diameter but a cookie cutter will do as well.  Of course, the size of the Hamantaschen is dependent on what you choose – you don’t want them too small or big.  Cut as many circles as you can, but you probably shouldn’t work with more than six at a time.  Take away all the unused dough and keep in the refrigerator.

Put filling in the center of each circle, about the size of a small marble.  The filling is your choice – preserves are better than jam since they will not get runny.  If you like, add three chocolate chips to each one.

Pull one side of the dough up about one-third of the way.  With your hands on both sides, pull up the remaining dough to form a triangle with an opening in the top for the filling.  Shape it so that it actually looks like a triangle.  Most importantly, pinch each of the three corners closed tightly!  Work quickly so the dough does not warm up and begin to rise.

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Get the next piece of dough and repeat.  Be careful not to mix dough that has been previously rolled out with that which has not.

Bake 12 at a time on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  I find it is easier to make a batch of twelve with one filling then change to another.  I find it helps to wipe down the surface after each batch of 12.  Otherwise, your dough will stick to pieces left on the surface.

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Bake until they begin to turn brown – about 12 to 14 minutes at 375.  Place on cooling rack.  They can be frozen until you are ready to eat.  This recipe makes about 6 dozen depending on how big you make them.

While I hope yours will be perfect, sadly, that is not always the case.  The preserves tend to leak and as they rise, the corners will often begin to separate.  They may not all look great, but they still taste wonderful.

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