I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


This week us Jews celebrate the el cheapo version of Halloween - Purim. Kids dress up in various costumes and we eat food which is reminiscent of the story. After all, what's a Jewish holiday without food?! The Purim story is called the Megillat Esther and it reads like a decent Hollywood blockbuster script. Plenty of love, intrigue, passion, deception and of course, a decent villain who we all love to hate - Haman.

Among other things, Haman is deserving of some mockery, at least in a culinary sense. A traditional Purim food is Hamentashen (pronounced home'n-tah-shen), a triangular cookie meant to represent Haman's 3 cornered hat...or his ears...or his pockets (3 Jews = 4 opinions) Traditionally Hamentashen are filled with various jams, poppyseed and almond or date fillings.

Hamentashen are a very easy thing to make and kids love them, so it's a perfect cooking with kids activity. In my case (no surprise) I cheat and use a basic sweetpaste dough as the base rather than a more complex butter cookie recipe. You could use pretty much any roll-out sugar cookie recipe, or just cheat even further and use the tubes of stuff you can find at the supermarket. Kids can help by making the dough and then doing the rolling out and so on, but I find it's much less stressful to make the dough and roll and cut the circles yourself. Arm the kids with the fillings and let them at it. This recipe can also be used as a tart base, to make plain sugar cookies, to line pie tins, and so on.

I should also say that the business has wreaked havoc on my home baking. All my trusty utensils are in my commercial kitchen, leaving my own home bare of baking essentials. So I made these with no Kitchen Aid (instead using my hands and a fork), no rolling pin (a wine bottle did the trick), no piping bag (small spoon worked), no decent round cutter (a cup works) and no actual recipe (it was in my head.) In other words, you have no excuse not to try these yourself.

It should be noted that we also used various non-traditional fillings. Recently one of my fellow writers at Candy Addict sent me a massive box of American candy goodies. So our Hamentashen are filled with Hershey's Kisses and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups as well as the more traditional jam. Enterprising six year olds also dipped a toe into the molecular gastronomy movement with the invention of the "Claire 2000." Yes, a Hamentashen with a dollop of raspberry jam and a Peanut Butter Cup on top. My son ate one and literally swooned. You've been warned.

I wouldn't recommend the Kisses route, though - the damn things are made out of some scary unbreakable chemical compound and thus do not really melt. Instead they go kinda wrinkly and then mealy and ... well, gross. Use a more appropriate melting chocolate instead.

...and while it's not essential to eat your dinner while watching these bake, it does make for an entertaining photograph.

Hamentashen, emzeegee style
150g butter, at room temp
150g sugar
300g plain flour
2 eggs

(Note the formula is 1:1:2 so you can scale up and down as required.)

In a bowl of a mxer with the dough hook attachment (or just with your hands), mix the butter and sugar until incorporated - do NOT cream. Add the flour and mix until it resembles fine breadcrumbs - ensure there are no large butter lumps. Add the lightly whisked eggs and mix until just combined(a fork will do this nicely). Take out of the mixer and give a good squish with your hands to bring it to a ball. Allow to rest at least one hour (but nothing bad will happen if you don't. It just may be a bit hard to work with and shrink a bit on cooking.)

Generously flour your work surface and the dough. Roll out to about 3 mm thickness and cut out circles. On each circle place about 1/2 tsp of mixture - don't overfill as it makes a mess. Then follow the method as demonstrated by my son below: bring up the two sides to form a point at the top. Then bring up the bottom curve and pinch the corners together to make a triangular shape. (There are various philosophies about how to do this so the filling does not explode. It's all bull****. This method works.)

Bake on lined cookie sheets for about 18-20 minutes at 180C or until golden on the edges. A warning, the jam will be MOLTEN when it comes out, so resist the urge to pop the bubbles. Cool on a wire rack and eat, preferably with an enormous glass of milk.

1 comment:

ramona said...

love it -- they look like they're having a blast and that pic of your DS staring at the oven is priceless!