Hamentaschen for Purim

Hamentaschen (also spelled hamantaschen) are the little goodies made and enjoyed during the Jewish holiday of Purim. The Book of Esther in the Bible recounts how Esther saved her Jewish people from annihilation by the villain Hamen, who wore a three-cornered hat; thus the three-cornered “cake” is called a hamentaschen. Not sure why we have a sweet named after a villain, but traditions are sometimes hard to explain.

This week I experimented with several different ways to make this dessert. First I combined unbleached white flour with sour cream. Then I tried white whole wheat flour with melted butter, and finally gluten-free flour with coconut oil. The centers of the hamenstaschen can be filled with prune whip (lekvar), jam and nuts, or just jam. I used natural jams with no added sugar or a little evaporated cane juice. The recipe below is just one of the variations I tried, but the picture above represents two different fillings from two different batches.

Utensils: bowls, measuring cups & spoons, small pot, bowls, rolling pin, cookie sheets
Prep Time: About ½ hour
Cooking Time: About 25 minutes
Category: Vegan

2 cups flour (See choices above)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup juice of choice
½ cup oil or melted butter
jam of choice, alone or mixed with
crushed walnuts, almonds, or pecans (crushed)
Note: You will need at least one jar of 8 oz. jam and 1/2 c. crushed nuts, if using, mixed into the jam.)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and oil one or two cookie sheets lightly. (You may also substitute non-stick or parchment paper.
2. On the stove, bring one cup of juice to a boil on a low flame, using a small pot.
3. While juice is heating, pour 1/2 cup oil into flour and mix until pebbles form.
4. Then add boiling water slowly, a little at a time, until the dough forms a ball and starts to pull away from the bowl. (Depending on your flour, you may need a little more or less liquid.)
5. Separate the dough into three smaller balls. Roll each one out on a floured table. The dough should be about ½ thick, but not so thin that holes form in the dough. If the dough sticks, use more flour on the surface used for rolling.
6. Using a glass (I used an old-fashioned glass, about 3 inches across) cut out circles and place about 1 tsp. filling in the center. I used apricot jam for this batch, without nuts. (Too much filling will spill onto cookie sheet and make the “cakes” stick to the pan, so be sparing with the filling. See first photo below.)
7. Pinch the edges of the dough 1/3 of the way around the circle 3 times until a three-cornered hat form. (See second photo below.)
8. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake about 25 minutes until lightly browned on the bottom. (See third photo below.) Cool and serve.
Note: The smaller the glass (ex. juice glass) the more hamentaschen. The glass I used made about 18, but a smaller glass might make twice as much and the hamenstaschen can be eaten in just one bite!


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