Hamantaschen

This week’s Alpha Bakers recipe was chosen to celebrate Purim. Quoting wikipedia, here: “According to the Book of Esther, Haman, royal vizier to King Ahasuerus (presumed to be Xerxes I of Persia), planned to kill all the Jews in the empire, but his plans were foiled by Mordecai and his cousin and adopted daughter Esther, who had risen to become Queen of Persia. The day of deliverance became a day of feasting and rejoicing.”  That day is known as Purim.  According to some sources, ‘hamantaschen’ translates, literally, to Haman’s pouch, which is a reference to Haman’s attempt at bribery (pouch of bribery money), and the triangular shape is in ‘homage’ to his hat. Also, I keep misreading the name of these as “hamanatschen.”

Whatever it is, it’s an excuse to make and eat cookies, which is something I can always get behind.

I’d almost be inclined to put this recipe on the quick and easy list, but that’s probably because I already had a suitable filling in the fridge.  Traditionally, hamana hamana cookies are supposedly filled with some sort of poppy seed concoction. Being that I have no particular fondness for poppy seeds, and I don’t generally keep any in my house, and one of the suggested filling options is apricot lekvar, which I happened to have in my fridge from the days of being a “beta” baker (which is still so wrong to go from beta to alpha – obviously it wasn’t software people who named these groups)… er.. where was I?  Oh, right, I used apricot lekvar for the filling, instead of poppyseed something-or-other. And, as a result, all I had to make was the cookie dough, which was a breeze with my new food processor. Probably would have even been a breeze with my old food processor, if we (I) hadn’t busted it.

Pâte Sucrée mise en place
Pâte Sucrée mise en place

In this case, you process turbinado sugar (aka Sugar in the Raw) until fine. I used the small processor bowl for this, because I found that with the big one, the tiny amount of sugar involved didn’t get picked up and spun around. It worked perfectly with the small bowl.  Then, pulse in the butter. My old processor (KitchenAid – don’t buy their food processor, though I love their stand mixer) had a “soft start,” which meant that it didn’t really have a usable “pulse” setting. You either had to hold it down for at least 5 seconds per pulse, or it never got up to speed. Awful thing. After the butter, add the flour, pulse again, and get something that looks like this:

Flour mixed into butter & sugar
Flour mixed into butter & sugar

Then add the cream, vanilla, and egg yolks.  Pulse again, until combined, then press it together (Rose says to use a freezer bag, but I just used my hands and plastic wrap).  Ultimately, you end up with a ball of dough, which you split in half, to make rolling out easier.

Split ball o' dough
Split ball o’ dough

I didn’t get any pictures of rolling & cutting, but it’s not very exciting. Once you’ve rolled the dough and cut a bunch of 3″ circles, you brush the rim of each cookie with an egg wash.

img_20150301_112108
Ready for filling

I was a little annoyed at this point, because the dough had an egg yolk in it, then the egg wash called for another 2 egg yolks, and when I was done brushing it, I felt like I still had quite a bit more than one full egg yolk’s worth of egg wash left. It felt like a waste. Then I realized egg wash is just yolks+milk, and 3 leftover egg whites + leftover egg wash = scrambled eggs. So, that’s what I had for lunch today.

Back to the cookies.

I measured, and it turns out that my smallest cookie scoop holds exactly 12 grams of apricot lekvar, so it was perfect to use to distribute the filling. After filling, you pinch the cookie together in 3 places to make little triangles. They’re also supposed to be brushed with further egg wash on the outside, to aid with browning and give a slight shine, but… I only did a few of them, then got lazy.

Ready for the oven
Ready for the oven

Thanks to Nancy over at Bread & Cake & More, who posted her experience to our Facebook group, I knew to seal them up well, and leave only a fairly small opening in the middle, with the expectation that the cookies will expand and flop open a bit as they bake.  After shaping, they hit the fridge for about an hour to firm up, while I took care of some other things around the house. Most of my baking time lately is interspersed with mudding drywall or other random tasks related to home improvements. We’re in the middle of replacing all of the carpet on our second story and stairs with maple hardwood. At the same time, we’re replacing all of the trim and baseboard, rebuilding the window sills (we already replaced the windows), painting, etc. In some places, the previous owner had drywalled over the existing plaster+lath, but only up to the trim, so the trim was essentially embedded in the drywall. When we took off the trim, it meant that the drywall needed to be patched, and the mudding is always my job. It’s slow and tedious, but I actually kind of find it relaxing if nobody’s breathing down my neck to get it done quickly.

Hamana hamana hamana cookies
Hamana hamana hamana cookies

Mine didn’t flop open too much during baking. You can see a slight difference between the ones where I brushed the outside with egg wash after shaping (front row or two) and those where I didn’t.  The crust is nice and tender, and the filling very apricot-y. If I make these again, I might put a bit more salt in the crust for flavour. I found these basically became apricot “jam” delivery systems, which is fine, as long as that’s what you’re expecting. 🙂 One thing the nerd in me appreciated is that I could fit them together in a line on the cooling rack and in the cookie tin. None of this round cookie in a rectangular space business. Triangle cookies fit together in a much more satisfying way.

I haven’t decided yet if what’s left of these is going to work or staying home. Opinions welcome, if anyone from work or home is reading this. 😉

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8 thoughts on “Hamantaschen

  1. You are always so funny! I love reading your posts. I laughed when you said it is not right from Beta to Alpha. LOL! Cos you are a computer software person right? And then you end up eating the left over eggs as scrambled eggs..you are so funny..kept making me laugh when I was reading your post! I like your description! Jam delivery systems! That is exactly what it was..the pastry.. I too find it bland…i would maybe use salted butter next time or even more butter… if there is a next time!

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  2. Vicki, it’s a breville sous chef. I keep meaning to write up a review, but I haven’t found the time to do so, just yet. Soon. 😉

    Faithy, yup.. I’m a former software developer, and now I’m a product manager for software that is used to make software. 😉

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  3. first, your cookies look great. second,I ended up with so many eggs whites so I after i was done with the cookies i went ahead and flipped to page 420 and make the praline pecan meringue last,I couldn’t stop laughing while reading your post..Love it!!

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  4. I thought 2 eggs yolks in the glaze was a bit much so I only used one and it was just enough. Hate wasting an extra egg! I have so many leftover egg whites in the fridge after starting this bake-a-long. Time to make macarons or angel food cake or meringues. if you get a chance, I hope you’ll stop by and see my post.

    Patricia @ ButterYum
    http://www.butteryum.org/roses-alpha-bakers/2015/2/11/tbb-hamantaschen-purim

    ps – love your idea of adding a tad more salt in the dough!

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  5. Beautiful job on the Hamantaschen! They look delicious! Isn’t it fun to be exposed so many different recipes? I wouldn’t have made these if it hadn’t been for the Alpha Bakers!

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