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A beloved (but lesser known to the outside world) and joyous Jewish holiday is Purim – and this year the holiday begins at sunset on Saturday, March 15, and ends on Sunday evening, March 16. Purim recalls a time when Jews living in Persia were saved from extermination.
It is one time where Jews whose background, especially those of Eastern European or Mediterranean (Ashkenazic and Sephardic) descent, observe the date with lots of partying and drinking. And there is one food that is found at nearly every celebration – or one filled cookie I should say. Hamentashen (plural) ! Pronounced HAH-men tash en, these triangle-shaped, filled cookies remind us of Haman (the villain’s) three cornered hat.
In my case, these cookies remind me of my Aunt Tillie aka Teensy and my Aunt Esther, my mother’s older sisters. They made the very best hamentashen and I love, love, love these little delicacies. While my three kids were in college, I used to send boxes of these adorable cookies for them to enjoy in their dorm rooms and to share with friends.
The oil dough is so easy to work with and the filling isn’t too sweet. Best of all, they freeze for up to three months and travel well – no crumbling or fragility here. I like these so much I make a few times during the year – not only for Purim!
Aunt Tilly’s and Aunt Esther’s Fruit Hamentashen
Makes approximately 30-40 cookies
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup canola oil
- 1 Tbsp fresh orange juice
- ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
- Rind of one medium orange, grated
- dash of salt
- 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp. non aluminum baking powder
NOTE: I know I talk about playing with recipes from time to time… but FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS for good results!
Combine flour with baking powder, salt and orange rind. Using a food processor or heavy mixer, mix eggs, oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Gradually add dry ingredients. The dough will be soft. Scrape it into an oiled bowl and cover with saran; refrigerate the dough overnight so it firms up.
- 12 ounces dried California apricots, dice in food processor or by hand
- 12 ounce pitted prunes, dice in food processor or by hand
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/3 cup apricot or other flavor jam (don’t use sugar free)
Dice prunes and apricots, stir in jam and cinnamon to combine. This fruit filling will be thick.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or lightly oil them. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and adjust so the cookie sheets fit on the middle racks.
Divide dough into 4 pieces and keep it refrigerated except for the piece you’re rolling. Roll each quarter of dough on a lightly floured board or pastry cloth into a 1/8” thickness. Using the top of a 4” glass dipped in flour, cut out circles.
Put a heaping teaspoon (walnut size) of the fruit filling in the center of each cookie, and pinch the dough around it so it forms a triangular shape. You can recombine the scraps of dough and roll them again to form additional circles. Bake 15-20 minutes until nicely brown. Cool on rack. These can be frozen between layers of waxed paper for up to three months.
Notes: I have a really cute circular ruffled cookie cutter that I used for these cookies – it makes them look a little fancy when I am in that kind of mood. And from time to time, I fill the hamentashen with a nice thick poppyseed filling…next year I might share that recipe too!! At times I have rolled the dough much tinned which yielded many more cookies, but thicker dough seems to hold the cookies better-otherwise they seem to “flop” over and they aren’t so pretty.