Hamantaschen

Hamantaschen are the traditional Eastern-European dessert at Purim, the holiday which is derived from the Book of Esther. This joyous day celebrates the repeal of the death decree against the Jewish inhabitants of ancient Persia. The villian of the holiday is Haman, and thus these pastries are made in the shape of Haman's ears, or hamantaschen. The dough for hamantaschen can be bread-like or thin and cookie-like. Our family prefers the cookie-like texture with a high filling to dough ratio. Many different fillings are used for hamantaschen, but our family particularly likes the poppyseed, chocolate, and prune-apricot fillings. Recently, my daughter Leah started preparing the all apricot filling below. I once forgot the sugar in the chocolate filling. It was still marvelous, so if you are trying to cut down on calories, save a few by leaving out the sugar in the chocolate filling.

Dough

Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Mix butter into flour mixture, as for pastry, until the mixture resembles meal. Add the beaten egg and milk (or orange juice) and vanilla (or rind). If possible, refrigerate for a few hours. Roll out to 1/4-inch thick dough on a lightly greased surface, flouring the top of the dough. This way, when you cut the dough, turn it so that the floured surface sits on your palm, and the greased surface holds the filling and sticks together better. Cut the dough into 3-inch rounds, fill (see below), form triangle. Bake at 375°F. for 15-17 minutes on ungreased baking sheets. One recipe of dough makes about 25 hamantaschen.

I prepare about 5 or 6 recipes worth of dough, then (while the dough is chilling) prepare varying amounts of the fillings below, depending upon the taste of the recipients. The only problem arises with the chocolate filling which hardens almost immediately; so prepare it just before filling and baking. The poppy and fruit filling can sit at room temperature while you are preparing the chocolate ones.

Poppyseed Filling (for about 25 hamantaschen)

Combine all the ingredients, adding honey to taste. Alternatively, prepare homemade poppy:

Pour boiling water over seeds; drain. Grind seeds. Combine the remaining ingredients, except for egg. Cook over low flame until thick. Allow to cool, and add egg. Continue as above with canned filling.

Prune and Apricot Filling (for about 40-45 hamantaschen)

Chop dried fruit. Mix all ingredients, and microwave until thick (20 minutes on high, but this varies with power of microwave).

Chocolate Filling (for about 25-30 hamantaschen)

Melt chocolate in microwave. Add sugar, butter, milk, and vanilla. Stir, and return to microwave very briefly, just to melt butter. Gradually, stir beaten egg into chocolate. Use this filling immediately before it hardens. See Leah's variations below.

My Daughter Leah's Apricot Filling (for about 15 hamantaschen)

Chop the dried apricots, about 4-6 pieces per apricot half. Microwave all ingredients for about 20 minutes on high (until the foam dies down). Cool to room temperature. Add honey to taste.

Leah also substitutes, measure for measure, cream cheese for the butter in the chocolate filling above. And she has substituted brown sugar for the white sugar in the chocolate filling. She finds this gives a much smoother and richer filling.

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