As service chair for Yachad branch of National Council of Jewish Women of Canada, Toronto section, I look forward to the task of co-ordinating our annual Purim party for the tenants at the Bathurst-Prince Charles Building. This is an integrated, fully accessible housing project with affordable housing for seniors and independent accommodation for the disabled.
Our guests look forward to the event. Each year they line up impatiently in the hallway until we’re ready to open the door to the building’s small community room. They enter, young and old, eager with anticipation. Many have walkers or canes, and most are now familiar faces, more endearing each year. They come ready to listen to our entertaining version of the Megillah, to tell us their stories, then to sing and dance. And dance they do, walkers and all, along with the music provided by the versatile and talented Mickey Lewin.Yachad members contribute an assortment of traditional sweets and fruit for our Purim sweet table. Everyone may feast at the party and take mishloach manot parcels back to their apartments and to other tenants who are unable to attend. Our ambitious bakers provide not only customary hamantaschen, but also an array of delicious cookies and squares, along with some sugar-free treats and fruit. Our sweet table is clearly the highlight of the party.
Near the conclusion of the gathering, the animated room grows silent while everyone enjoys dessert, letting the Yachad members know that once again the occasion has been a great success.
Hamantaschen are not the only traditional sweets found at Purim. Other traditional Purim baked goods often contain something hidden inside. This custom is comparable to the wearing of Purim costumes, where someone’s identity is concealed. In the preparation of Purim pastries, fruit, cheese, chocolate, nuts or seeds may be found deliciously “hidden” within the sweets.
1 cup light cream cheese
1/2 cup icing sugar
6 tbsp. frozen orange concentrate, thawed
1 tbsp. orange zest
2/3 cup butter or margarine
5 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
Prepare a 9×9-inch baking dish with canola spray and line with parchment paper. In food processor, mix ingredients for orange filling until smooth. Remove to a bowl.
Put chocolate and butter together in a covered microwave-safe bowl, heat on high power for about one minute (not much longer or it will burn). Stir until all the chocolate melts and combines with the butter. In original processor bowl, process sugar, vanilla and eggs until light. Add chocolate mixture and pulse until combined. Add flour, salt and baking powder, pulse just until blended.
Pour 1/2 of chocolate batter into pan, cover with orange filling and then pour remainder of batter on top. Use a knife to push down to bottom of pan while making designs throughout the batter. This will create the buried treasure pattern. Bake at 350 for 40 to 45 minutes. Brownies are baked when cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely on rack before cutting into squares. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
2 medium pears, peeled and shredded
2 medium apples, peeled and shredded
3 tbsp. dried cherries or cranberries
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. dry sherry
2 tbsp. almonds, chopped
1/4 cup honey
36 3-in. round wonton wrappers
3 tbsp. butter, melted
In large bowl toss together pears, apples, cherries and lemon juice. In large pan, melt butter and sauté fruit for 7 minutes. Reduce heat and add sherry. Cook until liquid has evaporated, add honey. Remove from heat. Cool slightly.
To assemble, spoon 2 tsp. of filling into centre of each wrapper. Lightly moisten edges with water. Fold top edge over filling to opposite edge, making a half moon. Press edges together to seal.
Arrange kreplach on parchment-covered baking sheet. Brush with melted butter. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Cool. Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. orange zest
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
5 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup glazed candied red cherries
3/4 cup candied citrus peel
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup blanched almonds, chopped
In food processor, process butter until smooth; add sugar and eggs and process until light. Mix in orange zest, vanilla and almond extracts. Add dry ingredients to mixture, pulse until combined. Mix in fruits and nuts – do not overprocess – fruits and nuts should remain intact. Divide mixture into 3 parchment-lined loaf pans. Smooth over top with a spatula. Bake at 325 for 35 minutes or until golden.
When cool, remove from loaf pan and slice into 1/2-inch thick biscotti pieces. Place biscotti on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and toast at 325 for 10 minutes on each side. Remove to wire racks to cool.