Hamantaschen, Part 2

As you might remember from last week, I started telling you all about hamantaschen. What they’re all about, the holiday of Purim, and my connection with them. Oh, and that time that my wife made Jon Stewart laugh on the set of the Daily Show. You know, the usual.

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That Daily Show encounter happened a year ago. It had made me seriously think about making hamantaschen, but by that point, it was a little too late to make them for Purim. So if I wanted to make them for the holiday, I had to wait until this year. As I mentioned last week, I didn’t have a family recipe. So I needed to find a recipe I could use. I did some looking around and settled on a recipe from smitten kitchen as that site never lets me down.

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I started making them one evening, a couple of days before Purim. The recipe was very easy to put together. I did it by the book, except I substituted shortening for the butter, as I was trying to use up some shortening I had left. And I don’t use cream cheese all that often, but I have to appreciate the marks on the side of the package which you can use to measure. Speaking of measuring, I measured everything out ahead of time. Mise en place ftw!

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The bowl I used for mixing was too big. I didn’t know how much dough the recipe would make. But after some past mishaps with small bowls, I always try to err on the side of bigger rather than smaller. However, this bowl was way too big, which made it a little hard to mix at first. Overall though, it came together very easily. Once it was done, I put it in plastic wrap in the fridge overnight. I could see little specks of orange zest in the dough. Nice!

My new pastry mat.

My new pastry mat.

I hadn’t decided on the filling at that point. I figured I would decide in the morning and pick some up. Also, I figured the recipe might need some adjusting as the pictures with the recipe show the cookies as very open. I’m used to hamantaschen that are more closed, with much less filling visible.

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After some discussion with my wife, we decided on apricot and raspberry fillings. She picked up the apricot and raspberry jam to use for the cookies. (Thanks, hon!) Apparently people put all kinds of fillings in hamantaschen these days, but the ones we chose were a little more traditional. (I decided not to do poppy seed, but maybe another time.)

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I used my new pastry mat to make the cookies on. It was a very thoughtful present from my wife. (Thanks again, hon!) I found a glass which was the right size to use as a cookie cutter. I got out flour and floured up the mat and rolling pin. I took out the dough and rolled it out. I wasn’t sure how thick 1/4 inch was. Answer: thicker than I thought. I had to re-roll the dough to get the right thickness. I cut the cookies out and filled them, alternating between apricot and raspberry, so they ended up being about half of each. I filled up a tray and a half or so, about 20 cookies.

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I had followed the instructions for making triangles, but I tried to close them up more to look like how I’m used to seeing them. I tried to put less jam in to make it easier to close them. I used a dinner teaspoon and put in half of that or so.

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I put in one tray. I re-rolled the dough a couple of times so I could use up the last pieces of dough. I ended up with 31 cookies. The last few were a little crumbly. I think I added too much flour when rolling them out.

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I baked the first batch, then the second, then the third halfway through baking the second. They smelled amazing. But they looked a little too flaky or dry or something. My guess is either the shortening changed the consistency, or I added too much flour while rolling them out. Mostly they were okay filling-wise, but a few spilled out a little bit. I didn’t get to put them away right away, and the aroma wafted through the apartment. It was amazing and stayed that way for a while.

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I tried one of each after they had cooled a little bit. They were good. The filling really stood out. It was the star of the show. The dough was perfectly fine, but it really seemed to be just a vessel for the filling. My wife liked them a lot, I think much more than I did. She proclaimed them delicious and wonderful and amazing. (Oh, and thanks one more time hon for helping with the cleanup.)

Some turned out better than others.

Some turned out better than others.

I also brought them into work. As I was sharing them, I got to explain a little bit about Purim, which was fun in and of itself. And like my wife, people enjoyed them quite a bit. I thought they were decent, but who am I to argue with my adoring fans? 😉

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If I made them again, I would try using butter like the original recipe, as I think that would make a difference. I would also try to be careful about how much flour I used when rolling them out. And, I would think a little bit more about different fillings. Perhaps trying the traditional poppy seed would be interesting.

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How about you? Do you have a family recipe for hamantaschen? Or perhaps a favorite one that you use? What’s your favorite filling? Are you a traditionalist or more avant-garde? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Recipe courtesy of smitten kitchen.

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