I last wrote about Purim, the Jewish holiday coming up this weekend, in 2010. So it’s time to revisit.
What is Purim? From myJewishlearning.com: “Purim, or the Feast of Lots, is a joyous holiday that recounts the saving of the Jews from a threatened massacre during the Persian period (539-330 BCE). The story of Purim is recounted in the Book of Esther, whose eponymous heroine plays the leading role in saving her people. The holiday is traditionally celebrated with wild abandon and with the giving of gifts to friends and the poor.”
This is one of the funnest of all fun holidays that we have on the Jewish calendar.
The kids? They get to play dress-up (costumes are prevalent).
The grown-ups? We are commanded to get drunk. Yes, COMMANDED.
And to celebrate, friends and family send each other fun gifts.
Is this holiday great or WHAT?
OK, so I’m simplifying here. But the reality is that Purim is one of the most anticipated days of the year. So to help feed our anticipation, my children and I decided to bake the holiday’s signature food, a triangle-shaped cookie called a “hamentasch” or the plural version, “hamentaschen.”
So what is a hamentasch? The name of the cookie is a reference to the villian in the Purim story — Haman. Haman wanted to extinguish the Jews from the kingdom of Shushan. In the literature, Haman is often depicted wearing a three-cornered hat. So the triangle-shaped cookie is symbolic of our victory over the evil Haman (or something like that).
There are as many variations of hamentaschen as there are variations of Jews (and believe me, there’s a lot). But today I present to you the recipe that my mom passed down to me. I believe its origins are from a cookbook from a Jewish woman’s group she belonged to when I was a kid. The dough is so good on this recipe, it’s hard not to snack it. Kids will enjoy helping — young children will like turning circles into triangles (at least mine did).
Hamentashen are made with many different fillings, including poppy seed (the oldest and most traditional variety), various kinds of fruit preserves, or chocolate. I highly recommend using the fruit fillings with this dough to provide a moist cookie. (We did only mini chocolate chips at the request of the kidlets, and while I like the cookies that way, they might be considered somewhat dry.)
Roll dough on floured surface about 1/8 inch thick. Cut with 3-inch round cookie cutter.( A floured drinking glass will work). Top each round with 1/2 teaspoon fruit filling. Shape into triangles to look like Haman’s hat. Leave center open.
Laura Weisskopf Bleill is the co-founder and editor of chambanamoms.com. You can reach her at laura@chambanamoms(dot)com.