Purim begins this evening! It’s one of our girls’ favorite holidays, celebrating clever Queen Esther saving her people from the wicked Haman. It’s a time of celebration, festivity, and treats–in fact, one of the essential ways to celebrate Purim is by giving gift baskets of pastries, fruits and more to loved ones.
While we aren’t quite back in our own kitchen (this weekend!), Sadie and I borrowed the counter space at The Woods House to make hamantaschen, the traditional triangle-shaped cookies that are eaten during the holiday. Made with a buttery dough and dollops of preserves, the cookies are shaped in triangles to to remind us of Haman’s 3-cornered hat. Traditional fillings include poppy seed (mohn) and prune (lekvar), but it’s just as delicious to use jam. Over the years, I’ve used my own homemade preserves in the filling, but, truth be told, plain old Smuckers is just fine.
Makes 3 dozen
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
scant 1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, separated
2-3 tablespoons milk or cream
Apricot (or other) preserves for filling
Preheat oven to 375.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, salt, sugar and butter and beat until just crumbly. To this mixture, add vanilla, the yolks of both eggs, one egg white, and a tablespoon of milk or cream. Beat on the medium speed until dough begins to come together, adding milk or cream if needed. Gather the dough and divide into three parts, making balls, and then flattening into disks. Wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator to chill slightly if the dough is beginning to seem too soft to be workable.
Working quickly, with one disk at a time, roll the dough until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Using a cookie cutter or the rim of a glass, cut the dough into circles 3 to 4 inches in diameter (we use the rim of a sturdy pint glass). Place a small spoonful (approximately 1/2 teaspoon) of jam in the center of each round.
Folding can be tricky, and the first few will probably be a little misshapen–don’t worry, it happens to everyone! The shaping is not hard to do, but it is hard to explain. For a visual reference, check out this helpful step-by-step. For each circle, take one third of the dough and fold it toward the center, leaving the jam visible. Take the next third of the dough and fold it over in the same way, overlapping the first fold at the edge of the triangle. Finally, fold the last third of the dough over in the same way, overlapping the other folds. Pinch lightly to seal. Place cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet. Beat the egg white and brush it over the tops, then bake for 12-15 minutes, until jam is a slightly bubbly and cookies are golden.
*Warning: it is tempting to eat hamantaschen straight from the oven, but wait until they are cool. The jam can be scalding! After many a burnt tongue, we have finally learned to wait 15 minutes before sampling.*