Home Food THE SHABBAT TABLE – HEAVENLY HAMANTASCHEN

THE SHABBAT TABLE – HEAVENLY HAMANTASCHEN

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Leah Koenig’s book, Modern Jewish Cooking

Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom! This year, Purim begins on February 28th, but there’s no need to wait until the last minute to start your baking. Cookbook author and food writer, Leah Koenig, offers up some innovative versions of traditional hamantaschen in her book, Modern Jewish Cooking: Recipes & Customs for Today’s Kitchen (Chronicle Books).

For a deliciously unexpected spin on the classic version, Leah fills the triangles of sweet dough with a mixture of ground poppy seeds and melted chocolate. However, for traditional poppy seed-filling fans, omit the chocolate called for in the filling and stir in a little lemon zest and juice.

A few years ago, it occurred to Koenig that, despite their distinct three-cornered shape, hamantaschen are not so different from empanadas, calzones, or any other stuffed pastry. “Buoyed by this bit of insight, I tweaked my favorite recipe for sweet hamantaschen dough, dialing back the sugar and adding dried herbs to create a savory “cookie” worthy of a thick, sweet potato-Parmesan puree, or any other savory filling you dream up.”

Secret to Successful Folding: “Fill your circle, then fold one side over to the center at a slight angle. Fold the second side over to the center in the same way, slightly overlapping the dough over the first edge you created. Finally, fold the bottom of the circle up, tucking one side under the dough flap, and letting the other side hand over. (A small triangle of filling should still be visible in the center.) Wet your finger with a drop of water and then firmly pinch the folder corners.”

Leah Koenig’s book, Modern Jewish Cooking, steps to making hamantaschens

SAVORY HAMANTASCHEN

Adapted from Modern Jewish Cooking by Leah Koenig

Makes about 36 cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 Tbsp dried herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, or oregano, crushed with a mortar and pestle

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 Tbsp water

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

Sweet Potato-Parmesan Filling (below)

  1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, dried herbs, and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the water, vegetable oil, sugar, and eggs until combined. Slowly stir in the flour mixture, mixing until the dough begins to come together. Turn the dough out onto a flat surface and knead a few times with your hands until it is smooth, but not sticky. (If the dough appears too dry, knead in more water, 1 tsp—and no more—at a time. If it looks too wet, knead in up to 1/4 cup more flour, 1 Tbsp at a time, until you reach the right consistency.)
  3. Gather the dough, then divide it in half with a knife and form into two flat disks. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to overnight.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove half the dough from the refrigerator (keep the other half wrapped and chilled). On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Use a 3-inch round cookie cutter or glass to cut out as many circles as possible and carefully transfer them, about 1/2-inch apart, to the prepared baking sheet. Gather the dough scraps, reroll, cut out additional circles, and transfer them to the baking sheet.
  5. Spoon 1 tsp of filling into the center of each dough circle. Fold the left side over on an angle, followed by the right side. Fold the bottom flap up, tucking one end under the side flap to make a triangle-shaped pocket (the filling should still be visible in the center); pinch the seams firmly to seal. Repeat the process with the remaining dough and filling.
  6. Bake until lightly golden and browned at the corners—15 to 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. These are best served warm. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat leftovers briefly in a toaster oven.

SWEET POTATO-PARMESAN FILLING

Adapted from Modern Jewish Cooking by Leah Koenig

Makes about 1 1/3 cups

Mashed sweet potatoes make a delicious and unusual filling for either Sweet Hamantaschen or Savory Hamantaschen (recipes below). But the fresh thyme, garlic, and a hefty sprinkle of salty Parmesan in this filling place it squarely in the savory camp. 

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 shallot, finely chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Place the sweet potato and garlic in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat to medium and simmer until the potato is very tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a small pan set over medium heat. Add the shallot, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. Using a potato masher or fork, mash the sweet potato and garlic into a thick purée. Stir in the thyme, shallot, and Parmesan. Season with more salt and pepper and let cool slightly before filling hamantaschen. If desired, make up to 2 days ahead and store, covered, in refrigerator.

SWEET HAMANTASCHEN

Adapted from Modern Jewish Cooking by Leah Koenig

Makes about 36 cookies

Leah Koenig shares: “The first time I made hamantaschen­—the traditional triangle-shaped Purim cookie—by myself, I was twenty-five and was working with a sketchy dough recipe I found on the internet. The dough tasted fine but was super-delicate, and I ended up with a sorry-looking batch of cracked, leaky hamantaschen and two baking sheets caked with burnt jam. If only I had made this dough recipe instead. Bound with egg and oil and sweetened with orange juice, it rolled out and shaped with relative ease, making it ideal for beginners and skilled hamantaschen makers alike.

Note: For this recipe, I strongly recommend using the “spoon and sweep” method for accurately measuring the flour with measuring cups.”

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 Tbsp fresh orange juice

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp lemon zest

Possible Fillings: Chocolate-Poppy Seed Filling (below), Golden Apricot Filling (below), Prune Lekvar, Raspberry Jam, Blueberry Jam, Strawberry Jam, Nutella, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chips

  1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the orange juice, vegetable oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest until combined. Slowly stir in the flour mixture, mixing until the dough begins to come together. Turn the dough out onto a flat surface and knead a few times with your hands until it is smooth, but not sticky. (If the dough appears too dry, knead in more orange juice, 1 tsp—and no more!—at a time. If it looks too wet, knead in up to 1/4 cup more flour, 1 Tbsp at a time, until you reach the right consistency.)
  3. Gather the dough, then divide it in half with a knife and form into two flat disks. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to overnight.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove half of the dough from the refrigerator. (Keep the other half wrapped and chilled.) On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Use a 3-inch round cookie cutter or glass to cut out as many circles as possible and carefully transfer them, about 1/2 inch apart, to the prepared baking sheet. Gather the dough scraps, reroll, cut out additional circles, and transfer them to the baking sheets.
  5. Spoon 1 tsp of filling into the center of each dough circle. Fold the left side over on an angle, followed by the right side. Fold the bottom flap up, tucking one end under the side flap to make a triangle-shaped pocket (the filling should still be visible in the center); pinch the seams firmly to seal. Repeat the process with the remaining dough and filling.
  6. Bake until lightly golden and browned at the corners, 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Leah Koenig’s book, Modern Jewish Cooking, steps to making hamantaschens

CHOCOLATE-POPPY SEED FILLING

Makes 1 3/4 cups

Leah Koenig explains: “There are two camps of hamantaschen eaters: those who love the poppy seed-filled version (called mohn), and those, like me, who do not. Never mind tradition—we no longer live in the shtetl. We have access to incredible jams, Nutella, and any number of other fillings that are superior to gritty ground poppy seeds. Or so I thought. Resigned to developing a recipe to include in this book, I did the only thing I could think of: I added chocolate. Fortunately, I have learned to admit when I’m wrong, because this stuff was good. Like “sneak spoonfuls of the leftovers late at night” good. This recipe makes enough for two batches of Sweet Hamantaschen (above), or enough for one batch, plus copious snacking.”

Note: If you are a traditional poppy seed-filling fan, omit the chocolate in the recipe, and stir in 1/2 tsp lemon zest along with the juice.

1 cup poppy seeds

1 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup finely chopped dried apricots

1 Tbsp fresh orange juice

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 oz bittersweet baking chocolate or semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped

2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Use a spice or coffee grinder to grind the poppy seeds, working in batches if necessary, until powdery, 15 to 20 seconds.
  2. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, combine the milk, sugar, ground poppy seeds, and apricots. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until almost all the liquid is absorbed and the mixture thickens, 7 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add the orange juice, lemon juice, and butter and cook until absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the chocolate and vanilla and cook, stirring continuously, until the chocolate melts and the mixture is very thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly before filling hamantaschen. If desired, make up to 2 days ahead and store, covered, in the refrigerator.

GOLDEN APRICOT FILLING

Makes about 1 1/4 cups

Apricot jam is one of Leah Koenig’s favorite sweet hamantaschen fillings. You can certainly use store-bought jam, but she prefers making this homemade version, which has an unexpected sweetness thanks to the addition of golden raisins.

1 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped

1/2 cup golden raisins, roughly chopped

3/4 cup fresh or bottled orange juice (not from concentrate)

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup sugar

  1. Combine the apricots, raisins, orange juice, water, and sugar in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is very soft and most of the liquid is absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and use an immersion blender to blend the fruit into a chunky purée; or mash with a potato masher. Let cool completely before filling hamantaschen. If desired, make up to 3 days ahead and store, covered, in the refrigerator.

Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She is the author of twelve cookbooks and divides her time between work as a food writer, food manufacturer, consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer, and cookbook editor. Norene lives in Toronto, Canada and her motto is “Food that’s good for you should taste good!” For more information, visit her website at www.gourmania.com or email her at goodfood@gourmania.com

READ ANOTHER EDITION OF THE SHABBAT TABLE HERE

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