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Friday, October 31, 2014

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The ultimate in homemade hamantashen

Tags: Food
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It isn’t Purim without hamantashen. Granted, at Purim it’s important to sing songs, hear the Megillah and tell the story of Purim, which are also lots of fun. However, as soon as those activities are done, we look for the triangular shaped pastries stuffed with yummy fillings like dried or fresh fruits, poppy seeds, chocolate or cream cheese. We eat hamantashen because they are delicious, but we should know that these triangle pastries, symbolic of hats, ears or pockets, represent the annihilation of the villain Haman.

Preparing and baking your own hamantashen should be an enjoyable event. No one should have the experience of baking hamantashen that leak out filling all over the baking sheet, spread apart while baking and/or totally lose their shape.

Even if you have had difficulty in the past, review the following guidelines and you will be able to master any hamantash recipe with ease and turn out tasty, beautiful batches on your first try.

 

Dough

Chill the dough. This makes it easier to roll and prevents spreading during baking.

Roll the dough to a consistent 1/4-inch thick. This will make it easier to handle and shape. Only roll the scraps once, or pastry will be tough.

Use a round cookie cutter, no smaller than 3 to 4 inches in diameter. Anything smaller will be too difficult to work with.

Brush the edges of the circles with egg wash before filling. 

Filling

The filling should be thick to prevent running while the hamantashen are baking. It’s best to follow a tested hamantashen filling recipe. Using jam on its own is not a good idea, as it will run. Mix jam with dried or fresh fruit for a better result.

Check the recipe to see if the filling should be chilled before using. Chilling the filling makes it less sticky and easier to handle. Note, however, that this does not apply to chocolate fillings.

Do not overfill the hamantashen. For a 3- to 4-inch pastry circle, use about one teaspoon of filling. Any more will cause the hamantashen to spread open and/or leak. Place the filling in the centre of the circle.

Folding

Do not pinch your hamantashen! We all seem to have an instinct to pinch and we must overcome it. Hamantashen need to be folded into neat triangles much like packing a carton, with one “flap” overlapping the other.

Baking

Double up baking sheets for more insulation to protect pastries.

Use parchment paper on the baking sheet to prevent any sticking.

Place baking sheets on the middle rack of the oven.

 

THE ULTIMATE HOMEMADE HAMANTASHEN

 

Pick one filling or double up the dough and try them both!

 

Prune Filling

2 cups pitted prunes

1 cup soft raisins (dry raisins may be plumped by soaking them in warm water)

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup orange marmalade

 

Combine the ingredients in the food processor until smooth. Chill for a minimum of one hour.

 

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Filling

1 cup cream cheese

2 tbsp. honey

1/2 cup sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pure vanilla

1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

 

Combine cream cheese, honey, sugar, salt and vanilla in the food processor until smooth. Add the chocolate chips and pulse until most of the chocolate chips are grated into the cheese filling. Chill for a minimum of one hour.

 

Dough

3 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. pure vanilla

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 egg plus 1 tsp. water, lightly beaten, as egg wash for cut dough circle

1 egg white, lightly beaten, for coating unbaked hamantashen

 

Using the food processor or electric mixer, combine eggs and sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla and oil until combined. Add the flour, baking powder and salt, mixing just until it begins to come together. Remove dough from work bowl onto a floured pastry board or counter. Sprinkle with flour and knead dough until it is smooth. Flatten dough, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of one hour.

Divide dough into two and roll one section, either on a floured board or between two pieces of parchment paper, until it is 1/4 inch thick. Cut dough into circles with a 3 inch or larger round cookie cutter.

Brush the edge of each circle with the egg wash, then place a teaspoon of filling in the centre.

There will be 3 flaps to create the triangle. Start at the left side and make a flap folding in towards the centre. Make another flap at the right side folding in towards the centre, overlapping the left flap at the top and creating a point. Fold up the remaining flap to complete the triangle. When folding, tuck the left side of the last flap under the left flap while leaving the right side over top of the right flap. Each side of the triangle should have a flap that folds over and a corner that folds under. Brush the top of each hamantash with the egg white.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden.

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