Perhaps you've seen pictures of small, triangular shaped cookies filled with ooey gooey goodness floating around the food blogs in the past week or so and wondered... what's the fuss over these funny little things?
The festive celebration of Purim, a Jewish holiday commemorating the offing of a certain pointy hat wearing bad guy, starts this weekend. Jewish folks are to eat, drink and be merry... not too bad as holidays go right? The celebration includes reading of the Book of Esther, and whenever you hear the aforementioned bad guys name, Haman, you're to make as much noise as humanly possible. Holler, scream, stomp your feet, and make a general ruckus. The purpose of the noise is to drown out his name each time its read.
The other cool thing? Jewish folks are to drink until they can't differentiate the name of Haman and other names read. The goal is to achieve a perfect balance of inebriation, located squarely between inability to distinguish names, but not tipsy enough to violate the commandments or become seriously ill. Sounds like a lot of people have been celebrating Purim for awhile now and didn't even know it!
Back to the pointy cookies. Haman (BOO! HISS!) wore a triangular hat, and Hamantaschen, literally translated to mean Haman pockets, commemorate his downfall. Typical fillings include poppy seed and fruit jellies. Go figure, I went all non traditional and added a kid friendly (and Mr. Socal friendly!) twist to the recipe.
This recipe is loosely based from one found here, plus tweaks that I added from my memory of making and eating Hamantaschen as a kid.
PB & J Hamantaschen
1/3 cup oil
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup orange juice
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Extra flour for dusting and rolling
3/4 cup peanut butter
2 tsp powdered sugar
Jelly or fruit preserves (I used strawberry, blackberry and sour cherry)
Soften peanut butter for 15 seconds in microwave, and mix in powdered sugar. Spoon small (less than 1 tsp) rounded scoops of peanut butter onto a wax paper lined plate using a small spoon or melon baller. Make 20 small scoops, and place plate into freezer.
Combine softened cream cheese and sugar in a stand or electric mixer. Add oil, eggs, baking powder, salt, orange juice and vanilla until well mixed. Slowly add flour until completely incorporated into the dough.
Generously flour a rolling pin and flat work surface. Place 1/2 dough on work surface, and place remaining dough in the refrigerator. Roll out dough until its 1/4 inch thick. Cut into circles using a cookie cutter or a pint glass. Repeat with remaining chilling dough.
To assemble Hamantaschen:
Scoop 1/2 - 1 tsp of jelly into center of dough
Remove peanut butter scoops from freezer and place one on top of the jelly. Press peanut butter scoop down firmly to slightly spread the jelly
Pinch each of the three corners together firmly. Don't be afraid to really be an aggressive corner pincher; this will prevent the dreaded Hamantaschen blowout later.
Repeat for the remaining Hamantaschen. Place all on greased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Makes 20 of these pointy little lovelies.
Now, about those blowouts... A Hamantaschen blowout is the Purim equivalent to a Matzoh ball sinker. You really try to your best to avoid them, but despite your best efforts, they happen.
The good news is, even the blowouts still taste good. And if you follow Purim traditions to the letter of the law, I bet you won't even know the difference.