You can usually find hamantaschen — those three-cornered cookies filled with fruit or poppy seeds — year-round in bakeries. But traditionally, it’s a treat meant to be enjoyed during the Jewish holiday of Purim.
Yiddish for “Haman’s pockets,” the pastry symbolizes the defeat of Haman, the villain of Purim, which celebrates the deliverance of the Jewish people from a plot by the despot to annihilate them. So it’s one big party.
“Jewish holidays are extremely serious, but Purim is really about having a good time,” said pastry chef Lynn Kutner. “And it wouldn’t be a holiday without food.”
Kutner will host a class in making the pastry at the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts in Midwood on March 13, which gives you plenty of time before the March 19 holiday to make dozens of batches.
The class will explore a variety of doughs, including nut, the traditional yeast, and sugar cookie. Below, Kutner shares with us a pâte sablée dough — a cross between a pie crust and a butter cookie dough.
“It’s not quite as sweet, since you’re already putting in sweet filling,” said Kutner. “It has a very lovely, falls-apart-in-your-mouth quality.”
You’ll notice the recipe has a choice of butter or margarine — the latter for Kosher cookers who can’t mix meat and diary. If that’s the case, make sure you double the vanilla.
“It kind of covers the taste of the margarine,” said Kutner. “You try to lessen its effect.”
And of course, it wouldn’t be a proper hamantasch without the filling, and Kutner will also teach you how to make a variety of those — ranging from raspberry to dried fruit to chocolate — for discerning tastes.
“Kids don’t like the dried fruit. At least with my kids, it’s chocolate or forget it,” said Kutner. “The dried fruit stuff is for your grandparents.”
Purim baking workshop at the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts [1407 Coney Island Ave. between Avenue J and Avenue K in Midwood, (718) 758-1339], March 13 from 9:30 am-1:30 pm. $75. Registration required. For info, visit www.kosherculinaryarts.com.
Courtesy of Lynn Kutner
Makes about 20
Pâte sablée dough
1-3/4 cups (unbleached) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt (1/8 teaspoon)
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) butter or margarine, very soft
2-1/2 tablespoons sugar (3, if you are using margarine)
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla (2, if you are using margarine)
Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar well with a wooden spoon. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla.
Work the flour mixture into the creamed mixture, starting with the wooden spoon and finishing with your hands, until it comes together in a ball. Form dough into three disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 30 minutes to overnight.
Two simple fillings:
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 tablespoon butter or oil
1/2 cup chopped roasted (either salted or unsalted) hazelnuts or pecans
Melt the chocolate and the butter or oil together over hot water. Remove and blend well. Mix in the chopped nuts. Cool a few minutes before using.
1 cup prunes (canned moist-pack, if available) or dried apricots
2 tablespoons sugar, approximately
2 tablespoons orange juice, apricot nectar, or pineapple juice
Puree the fruit with the sugar and juice in a food processor. Taste for sweetness. Add a bit more sugar, if you like it a bit sweeter.(Note that different batches of dried fruit vary in sweetness.)
Rolling and forming hamantaschen:
Roll one disk at a time to a thickness of about 1/8-inch on slightly floured silpat or a lightly floured pastry cloth. Cut with a floured 3-inch cutter, as close together as possible. (Gather up the scraps to roll out after you’ve done all three disks.)
Place about 1 teaspoon of filling in center of each round, and pinch edges three times to form a triangle. Pinch very firmly to keep the edges closed while baking. Chill a few minutes while you preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake about 15 minutes until lightly browned.