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Purim Feature: Three-cornered Pastries Come with Range of Fillings

Purim, the joyous holiday celebrating deliverance from Haman’s intended massacre, is celebrated with the reading of the megillah, the Book of Esther, in the synagogue. It is followed by carnivals with people in costume, and the sending of shalach manot — small packages of sweets — to relatives and friends.

Hamantashen, the traditional three-cornered sweet pastry served at this holiday, will freeze well if stored in air-tight containers. There are different ways to prepare Hamantashen and several options for pastry filling.

HAMANTASHEN

2/3 cup margarine

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons milk or water

2 1/2-3 cups flour

In a mixer, cream margarine with sugar. Add egg and continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla and milk or water. Stir in flour until a ball of dough is formed. Divide dough into 3-4 flattened rounds, wrap in waxed paper and chill 2-3 hours or overnight.

When ready to fill, on a floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out one round of dough to 1/8th-inch thickness. Cut into 2 1/2-3-inch circles. Place a rounded teaspoon of filling in the center of each round. Bring the three edges together tightly to form a closed triangle over the filling. (If desired, brush tops with mixture of 1 egg yolk mixed with 2 teaspoons water.)

Bake on a non-stick sprayed cookie sheet in a 350-degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Continue baking until all are done. Cool on a rack. Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar before serving.

HAMANTASHEN

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup oil

4 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

3 tablespoons orange juice

With an electric beater, beat eggs, adding sugar gradually. Add oil and beat well. Combine flour and baking powder; add to egg mixture alternately with the orange juice. Mix well. Divide dough and wrap in waxed paper; chill dough for several hours. Remove dough from refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out dough to 1/8th-inch thickness; cut into 2 1/2-3-inch circles.

Place a rounded teaspoon of filling in each center. Bring 3 edges to the center, pinching edges together to form a closed triangle over the filling. Place on a non-stick sprayed cookie sheet. Brush with egg wash, if desired.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

Cool on a rack. Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar before serving.

HAMANTASHEN

1/2 lb. butter or margarine

1/2 lb. cream cheese, at room temperature

2 cups flour

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter or margarine and cream cheese until smooth. Add flour; stir until dough is formed.

Shape into flat ball; divide in half and wrap each half in waxed paper. Chill 2-3 hours.

On floured surface, with lightly floured rolling pin, roll out dough to 1/8th- inch thickness; cut into 2 1/2 to 3-inch circles. Place a teaspoon of filling in each center. Bring three edges to the center, pinching edges together tightly to form a closed triangle over the filling. Place on a non-stick sprayed cookie sheet. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden.

Cool on a rack. Continue baking until all are done. Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar before serving. Makes about 36 pastries.

PRUNE FILLING

1 1/4 cups pitted dry prunes

1/2 cup raisins

water or sweet wine

1/2 cup chopped almonds

1/2 cup sugar

juice and rind of 1 lemon

Soak prunes and raisins in wine or water for several hours. Drain well. Place all ingredients in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until well blended.

APRICOT FILLING

1 lb. dried apricots

3 cups water

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

Cook apricots in water to cover until very soft, adding more water if necessary. Add sugar until fruit comes to a boil. Remove from stove; stir in lemon rind. Cool.

COCOA FRUIT BALLS

2 1/2 cups (about 12 ounces) dried mixed fruits

1 1/4 cups (about 8 ounces) Mission figs

1 cup flaked coconut

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

Coatings: Chopped nuts, unsweetened cocoa, sprinkles

Chop dried fruits and coconut in a food processor using the steel blade. Add orange juice, honey and cocoa; mix well. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Shape mixture into 1 1/4-inch balls. Roll in desired coating. Place each ball in a candy paper. Store in a tightly covered container between sheets of waxed paper at room temperature. Makes about four dozen.

CHOCOLATE BONBONS

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

4 cups powdered sugar

5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

Chopped toasted pecans

cocoa powder

Gradually beat powdered sugar into the cream cheese. Add melted chocolate and vanilla; mix well. Chill several hours. Shape into 1-inch balls; roll in pecans, cocoa or additional powdered sugar. Chill. Place in candy cups if desired. Makes about four dozen.

HUMMUS

1 15 1/2-16 ounce can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained

3 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)

juice of 1 fresh lemon

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 green onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil; optional

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender; blend to a paste. Remove to a bowl and chill. Stir in olive oil before serving if desired to thin consistency for dipping, Serve with pita, fresh vegetables or chips.

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