Tuesday, March 2, 2010


So this weekend was the Jewish holiday of Purim. I've had a hamantaschen recipe (the traditional Purim cookie) earmarked for some time now, but when it came to the day, Zack forgot to get eggs from the grocery store and I didn't get to start these until the holiday was essentially over. But cookies are good anytime, so I forged ahead.

Purim, for those of you not in the know, is the holiday where the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination. The villain, Hamen, wanted to exterminate the Jews, but they were saved by Esther (she spoke to the King on behalf of the Jewish people) and today, everyone celebrates by dressing up and sending out gifts of food. Some people like to call it the Jewish Halloween. The cookies symbolize Hamen's pockets, or ears, or his hat, depending on who you ask.

(Ironically, the first place I read about Purim was in a children's book at my friend Alison Criss's house - my only Christian friend in elementary school - but that's neither here nor there)

At any rate, I wanted to make some cookies. And so I did.

Hamentaschen (adapted from Smitten Kitchen - my current obsession)

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange zest (I used Meyer Lemon zest - it was great)
1 1/3 cups plus 4 teaspoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Jam, pie fillings, what have you. I used the Kahn family blueberry jam (amazing!), strawberry jam (from Smuckers. Substandard) and homemade poppy seed filling (because I am an overacheiver). Get the recipe I used here.

Cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth (I still haven't set up my stand mixer, so I used a wooden spoon.

Power to the old fashioned cooking methods!). Add sugar and mix for one minute longer, then egg, vanilla extract, orange (or lemon) zest and salt, mixing until combined.

Finally, add the flour. I added it 1/3 cup at a time and that seemed to work very well.

Form dough into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.

I was out of plastic wrap, so I used a ziploc bag. Then I left it over night in the fridge because at this point, it was almost 10pm.

Okay, now it's Tuesday. I had to wake up early and meet with a mortgage banker and wear nice "I'm such a responsible grown up don't you want to lend me hundreds of thousands of dollars" clothes. I'm ready for some damn cookies. Preheat oven to 350°F. Realize your oven didn't turn on, go back to the stove and kick it.

To form the hamantaschen, roll out the dough on a well-floured surface until it is about 1/4-inch thick.

Using a round cookie cutter (or a biscuit cutter! I have fancy biscuit cutters now from Miyoko. Yay for getting married and people giving me kitchen stuff!), cut the dough into circles.

Spoon a teaspoon of you filling of choice in the center.

Fold the dough in from three sides and firmly crimp the corners and give them a little twist to ensure they stay closed. Leave the filling mostly open in the center.

Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

My cookies turned out fairly misshapen. But you know what? They tasted good. The dough was really flaky and the homemade jam was a great filling. Like all Jewish cookies, they taste best warm.

Happy Purim!