I really don’t have a desire to get married in the near future. That’s not what this is about. I have things to do, like move back to Dallas and survive my first year of medical school.
However. Is there a way I can have a wedding registry, like, now? Have you seen these things? I’ve only recently been introduced to them, as some friends are getting married in the next few months. As I understand it, you basically get to make a list of all of these fantastic things – including a great deal of extremely necessary kitchen gear, like pizza wheels – and people buy them for you.
Our blender is on its last legs. I’m spoiled and I miss my mommy’s KitchenAid stand mixer. I could use a microplane, stat. And have you seen this measuring cup?!?!?? For serious. I need to get on this.
On a totally different note, we made hamantaschen today.
Hamantaschen is a funny word which basically means a triangular-ish cookie with filling in the middle. They’re for Purim, which starts on Sunday, the 20th. It’s basically the Jewish equivalent of Mardi Gras/Halloween. Purim is yet another Jewish holiday celebrating the fact that someone oppressed the Jews, the Jews fought back, and (though we were small in number) the Jews prevailed. That’s simplified…but it’s actually a really interesting story filled with sex, intrigue, deception, and the like. The Union for Reform Judaism gives a pretty good summary of the story. Purim is celebrated with costumes, food (duh), big parties, and lots of alcohol. I’d say the Jews got it right, yet again (bagels, lox, potato pancakes, etc.)
I guess I should tell you what triangle cookies have to do with Purim. The bad guy in the story, named Haman, wore a tri-cornered hat, sort of like Napoleon, except way earlier. So, in my mind, we make these cookies that look like the enemy, then we devour them! Winning.
(Is that an appropriate use of the term? I’m not up on all this Sheen business.)
The cookie part of the hamantaschen is like a rich sugar cookie dough that’s slightly less sweet and little more citrus-y. Some recipes are for a cream cheese dough…these are deliciously flaky, but kind of a pain to work with. There are as many hamantaschen recipes as there are Jewish grandmothers, I’m sure, but I like my family’s (obvs). It has 6 ingredients, is just sweet enough, and doesn’t brown too much in the oven. I have no idea where this recipe comes from, but that’s not important. What’s important is the filling.
Hamantaschen are traditionally filled with jams, like apricot or prune, or poppyseed filling, which I honest to goodness do not understand – and I’m going on my 24th year of Judaism here. When the Weatherman and I made them, we took a slightly less traditional route…we filled quite a few with peanut butter and chocolate, which I don’t think is how they did it in the Old Country. We may have gone a little overboard with the peanut butter-chocolate-strawberry one. I like plain strawberry and apricot hamantaschen too, and since I’m the boss of the blog, I made a few of those. Get creative with those fillings!
A couple of notes on the dough: it’s very soft and a little sticky, even after you chill it, so make sure you flour your work surface very well. It won’t make the cookies tough, I promise. I used a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter for the cookies, but you could always go smaller or bigger, adjusting the baking time accordingly. That’s all I think. It’s pretty straightforward and simple. Simple and delicious enough to be enjoyed any time of year!
Makes about 3 dozen cookies (if you use a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter)
1/2 cup (= 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
3/4 tsp finely grated orange zest (about the zest of 1 orange)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
For peanut butter filling
1/4 cup peanut butter (I used creamy)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
other filling ideas: chocolate chips, any kind of jam, finely chopped dried fruit mixed with honey
(It’s hard to say the amounts for these because it mostly depends on how many cookies you plan on filling with each. I usually like to do a few different kinds in a single batch!)
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, and baking powder. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and orange zest and beat until completely combined, about 2 minutes. The mixture will probably look a little curdled at this point, but that’s ok. The dry ingredients will help everything.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until combined. The dough might look a little crumbly, but it should hold together when you press it with a rubber spatula.
4. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Wrap each in plastic wrap and press into a 4 to 5 inch disk. Refrigerate until firm, about an hour. If using the peanut butter filling, combine both ingredients in a small bowl with a rubber spatula.
5. Preheat the oven to 375ºF with a rack in the middle position. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line with parchment paper. On a well-floured work surface, roll out one portion of the dough until it’s 1/4-inch thick. (Keep the other portions refrigerated.) Flour your biscuit cutter and cut out as many circles as you can from the dough, then re-roll the scraps to cut out more circles.
Place the circles about 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. I like to cut out all the circles to fill a baking sheet first, then go back and fill them.
6. Place a little less than a teaspoon of filling in the center of each circle. To form the triangles, lift up two sides of the circle at a time and pinch them together at the end to form a corner. Repeat to form a triangle. This dough usually sticks pretty well and holds up against filling leaks in the oven – another reason I love it. Repeat with all the circles.
Bake the cookies for about 8-10 minutes, until the corners just start to brown. The cookies will remain pale, so don’t wait for them to turn golden brown or anything. Cool cookies on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat the rolling/cutting/filling/shaping process for the rest of the dough. Cookies will keep in an airtight container for about 3 days.
Recipe adapted from my family.
What would you put in your ultimate hamantaschen? Crazy question, I know. Don’t think too hard about it. Thanks for reading, happy Purim, and happy baking!
[Today’s Japan link: a series of photos in the Boston Globe entitled “Japan: One Week Later.” I know we don’t need to be reminded of the devastation, but just to help us understand how much work lies ahead of the global community, in our humanitarian efforts and otherwise.]