Recipes

Hammentashen

March 5, 2014

iStock_000012001789SmallJews around the world- prepare to get your celebration mode in gear, it’s time for Purim! Head to your nearest synagogue, crank up your gregers and get ready to drown out the name of Haman while cheering on Esther and Mordechai.

As a prerequisite to any and all Purim celebrations (and seudahs), it’s time to dig out your favorite hammentashen recipe and get baking. This year I got an email asking where the idea of hammentashen actually came from. After a bit of research I came up with three slightly different but not dissimilar explanations for the seminal holiday treat. Simply put, the hammentashen is a three cornered pastry whose traditional filling is considered poppy seed. In Yiddish, hammentashen roughly translates to “Haman’s Pocket.” Other cultures call it Haman’s Hat (the villain supposedly wore a three-cornered chapeau). Still another explanation I found calls the pastry Haman’s Ear (truly didn’t want to explore the origin of this one).

No matter which definition you choose to adhere to the oldest “traditional” hammentashen recipe I found was made with yeast dough. The yeast dough variety is typically larger and more Danish- like than the cookie dough variety I grew up with. No matter which dough you choose, the most talked about filling I found was poppy seed.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to the fillings, from fruits and nuts to chocolate and a mixture of any and all of your favorite things. Just make sure not to over stuff and have a “vent,” causing your hammentashen to explode into weird looking cookies if the steam from cooking the filling builds up with nowhere to go. To make choosing the kind of hammentashen you want easier, I’ve compiled yeast and cookie dough recipes with a bunch of different filling recipes. Since you can always buy pie filling there is no excuse not to try them. Strain out the excess goo then add some bread crumbs and chopped golden raisins to make your own “homemade” fillings. If you’re pressed for time, these recipes will help make your hammentashen truly deliciously unique.

Make note, I typically do not make my own poppy seed filling. I find it way too expensive to make when my husband is the only one in our home who likes it and when the canned variety made by SOLO is really great once I doctor it with a bit of cinnamon.

HAMENTASCHEN COOKIE DOUGH (dairy or pareve)

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour (plus a little more for rolling out)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons milk, water or rice milk
2 teaspoons vanilla or 1 tablespoon lemon zest

In a bowl cream together the butter and sugar. Mix in the egg. Sift the flour and baking powder together and then and add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk or water, vanilla ending with the flour. Let the dough rest for at least 10 minutes before rolling it out on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into rounds and place a heaping spoonful of filling in the center of the round. Pull up the sides to form a triangle. Bake at 375 degrees for 15- 30 minutes until lightly golden browned. Makes 2 to 3 dozen depending on the size of your rounds.

My recipe modified from The Great Hadassah Cookbook

ANOTHER COOKIE HAMMENTASHEN DOUGH (pareve)

3 eggs
1 cup oil
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice
1/8 tsp salt
4 cups flour (approximately)
1 egg beaten (for the top)

In a bowl combine the eggs, oil, sugar, water and orange juice. Whisk to combine. Add the flour, salt and baking powder and fold it in but do not over mix. This will be a soft dough. Let sit for 10- 15 minutes. Divide dough into 3 parts. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thick on a floured surface. Cut into rounds and place a heaping spoonful of filling in the center of the round. Pull up the sides to form a triangle cut in circles. Brush the top of the filled hammentashen with the beaten egg. Lightly greased a baking sheet or use parchment paper and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or slightly longer until golden brown. Makes 1 ½ to 2 dozen depending on the size of the rounds.

My files, source unknown

JOAN NATHANS RECIPE FOR YEAST HAMMENTASHEN
Modified from Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook.

Filling
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons orange zest
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons honey
2 1/4 cups chopped pecans, walnuts or a mixture of your favorite dried fruits like prunes, dates, cherries, or apricots
2 tablespoons bread crumbs

Dough
2 tablespoons instant yeast
1/4 cup milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm or warm rice milk
1 cup sugar
2 cups unsalted butter or margarine, cold
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon zest
7 cups flour
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream or pareve sour cream
2 eggs
1 egg beaten

Filling: in a saucepan combine the water, cinnamon and sugar and bring it to a boil. Add the lemon zest and honey. Return the mixture to a boil. Add the nuts, dried fruit and crumbs. Stir to combine. Reduce to a simmer and cook for an additional 3- 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before using. You can make this 3 to 4 days ahead of time and refrigerate it until you’re ready to make your hammentashen.

For the dough: In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm liquid. In the bowl of an electric mixer (use the paddle), combine the butter, salt, vanilla, zest, and sugar. Beat on low for 3 minutes then slowly add the flour and sour cream, alternating them. Add 2 of the eggs and beat for 3- 4 minutes. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl. Divide the dough into 28 to 36 equal pieces. Roll them into balls then place them on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Roll each ball out into a circle on a floured surface. Place 1 heaping teaspoon to tablespoon (depending on the size of the circle) of the filling in the center of each circle. Pinch up the sides to form a triangle. Place the hammentashen on a greased or parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Brush the top with the beaten egg. Let the hammentashen rise for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Makes 28 to 36 hammentashen.

BROWNIE FILLING (dairy or pareve)
5 ounces semisweet chocolate
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
2/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon instant coffee
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

In a glass (microwavable) bowl, melt the margarine, semisweet chocolate and unsweetened chocolate together. Mix in the flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, vanilla, coffee and sugar. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts. Makes enough filling for 24 to 36 hammentashen depending on the size.

My files, source unknown

RASPBERRY FILLING
1 1/2 cup raspberry jam
One fresh raspberry for the top of each hammentashen
1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds
1/4 cup breadcrumbs

In a bowl, combine the jam, nuts and breadcrumbs. Use a teaspoon or tablespoon for filling and just before cooking place a fresh raspberry in the open part of the hammentashen. Makes 2 cups filling.

My files, source unknown

APPRICOT OR PRUNE FILLING

1 lb. of dried apricots or pitted dried prunes
Water, just to cover
1 cup sugar

Take a pound of dried fruit, either apricots or prunes, and put them in a saucepan. Cover with water and set them on the stove to cook until the water is almost gone. Don’t let the water evaporate- it will burn. You can add more water if the fruit is not soft and mushy. Add the sugar and continue cooking on a low temperature until the sugar is totally melted, 3- 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool until room temperature. Using a food processor or blender, process until smooth. Makes approx 1 1/2 to 2 cups.

Modified from about.com

DRIED FRUIT AND NUT FILLING

1 cup dried figs
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
1/3 cup walnuts
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Zest of 1 lemon

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process for 2- 3 minutes until combined but not totally pulverized. It should be chunky. Makes approximately 2 cups.

Modified from yummly.com

STRAWBERRY FILLING

2 cups sliced strawberries
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar

In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients and cook at medium heat for about 15 minutes until the sugar dissolves and mixture thickens. Remove from heat and cool completely. Makes 1 1/2 cup

My files, source unknown

PRUNE/RAISIN FILLING

1 1/4 cups dried pitted prunes
3/4 cup raisins
Water or prune juice to cover
2 tablespoons sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves

Place the prunes, raisins, sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and cloves in a saucepan and add water or prune juice just to cover. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn off the heat and let it stand for 30 minutes. Place the mixture in a food processor and process to a slightly chunky paste. Makes approximately 2 cups.

My files, source unknown

LEMON CURD FILLING
This is best with the cookie dough

3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold water
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
Juice of 1 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon butter or margarine

In a small saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk to combine. Whisk in the water and eggs. Whisk in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture is thick and bubbly. Boil approximately one minute and then remove from heat. Stir in the butter, cover with wax paper and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes approx 1 1/2 cup filling.

My file, source unknown

© Eileen Goltz Purim 14