It’s Purim Time. Hamantashen Anyone?

The festival of Purim means it's time to get baking: It's hamantashen time.

Time for Monday Morning Cooking Club’s Hamantashen

The Jewish Festival of Purim falls on 23rd/24th March this year. Hamantashen is the name for the sweet three-cornered filled pastry served at Purim, representing the ears of Haman, the villain of this festival.

Here is our wonderful recipe for fail proof hamantashen. Fill them with chocolate, jam, povidl (plum jam), walnuts and sugar, poppyseed (my personal absolute-without-a-doubt favourite filling is from Elisabeth Varnai’s Hungarian strudel (beigli), in our first book), nutella and sultanas…whatever takes your fancy!

My personal absolutely-without-a-doubt-hands-down favourite filling is poppyseed (or ‘mohn’) taken from Elisabeth Varnai’s Hungarian strudel (beigli) in our first book,  Monday Morning Cooking Club – the food, the stories, the sisterhood. It’s actually worth buying the book just for that recipe alone.

We are sharing three great fillings: Merelyn’s mum Yolan’s dried fruit and nut with a hint of chocolate, Paul Gordon’s speculoos and John Bek’s (from He Needs Food) balsamic fig.

We were thrilled to be on Channel 7’s The Morning Show last year, to share the hamantashen joy.

 


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EVY’S HAMANTASHEN DOUGH 

Our dough recipe (from Evy Royal) appears on p. 221 in Monday Morning Cooking Club – the food, the stories, the sisterhood

225 g (1 ½ cups) plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
100 g (1 stick less 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
60 g (1/4 cup) sugar
75 g sour cream

To make the dough, combine all the dough ingredients either in a food processor or by hand. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and rest in the fridge for 1 hour.
Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
Roll the dough out to a 3 mm thickness. With an 8–9 cm diameter cookie cutter or glass, cut out circles from the dough. Place a teaspoon of your filling on each circle. Bring the three sides of the circle up into the centre (leaving a small opening at the top if you wish) to form a triangular pastry, pinching the three ‘joined edges’ to seal.
Place on the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate for 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

Makes about 20
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ONE: YOLAN’S FRUIT AND NUT FILLING
This delicious filling from Merelyn’s mother takes her right back to childhood.

100 g (3 1/2 oz) sultanas (golden raisins)
100 g (3 1/2 oz) currants
100 g (3 1/2 oz) pitted dates
70 g (2 oz) walnuts
30 g (1 oz) peanuts
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon jam (jelly)
40 g (1 1/2 oz) dark chocolate, chopped

Process all ingredients together in the food processor until you have a chunky paste. Use 1 teaspoon to fill your hamantashen.
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TWO: PAUL GORDON’S SPECULOOS

We held a hamantashen filling competition a few years ago and this was voted by us as our favourite . We loved it because it was different in texture and taste to any others we have tried over many years of eating hamantashen. We all agreed that the biscuits would also make a wonderful cheesecake crust. Paul writes ‘when travelling through France, we were introduced by a Jewish family we met there to a sandwich paste called ‘Speculoos’, which is a paste made from Dutch spiced biscuits. For this recipe, I’ve tried to recreate that paste as best I could…’

You can buy Speculoos biscuits (cookies) from many bakeries who make their own, some supermarkets carry them, or you can make them yourself. We used Dutch windmill biscuits from a specialty food store/grocer.

12 Speculoos Biscuits
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons pure icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
a large pinch of citric acid
a squeeze of lemon juice
vegetable oil, to emulsify

Process the biscuits in a food processor. Add the sugar, vanilla, citric acid and lemon juice.
Start the processor and add the yolks one at a time. Slowly add the oil in a steady stream until the mixture becomes a smooth thick paste. It should have a consistency similar to peanut butter. Fill the hamantashen with 1 teaspoon of the mixture.
Be careful not to overfill – this filling does expand. (You’ll want to eat the rest of the filling straight out of the food processor, it’s delicious!)
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THREE: JOHN BEK‘S BALSAMIC FIG FILLING
This was one of the runners up in our competition and won first prize for the best photo. It is a lovely ‘adult’ filling of slow baked figs with chocolate balsamic, pistachio & orange blossom water. This fig filling would also be delicious on top of vanilla icecream as a dessert.

600 g fresh figs
vanilla sugar, to dip
chocolate balsamic syrup, or use regular balsamic syrup mixed with a little cocoa powder
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
¾ teaspoon orange blossom water
2-3 teaspoons vanilla sugar, extra
2½ tablespoons ground pistachios, plus extra to garnish

Preheat oven to 170°C/340°F. Line a baking tray and set aside.
Cut the figs in half lengthways, dip into the vanilla sugar and arrange on the baking tray, cut-side up. Very lightly drizzle the balsamic syrup over the figs. Bake for 2 hours until caramelised and soft.
Remove the figs from the tray when cool enough to handle and chop roughly. In a mixing bowl combine the chopped figs, lemon zest and orange blossom water. Add 2-3 teaspoons of the sugar and taste for sweetness. If the figs were very ripe you shouldn’t need more sugar. Add the ground pistachios and mix it all together. Fill and bake the hamantashen and garnish with the extra pistachios.
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Balsamic fig hamantashen. Photo and recipe by John Bek
Balsamic fig hamantashen. Photo and recipe by John Bek

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