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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Happy Purim!

Purim is one of our favorite holidays - some liken it to Halloween, because we get dressed up in costume and make a lot of noise.

It centers around the ancient Persian town of Shushan, and the heroine is Queen Esther, a Jewish woman who helped saved her people from being killed by the evil Haman. It's a long story, and I'll let you read it here.

As with every Jewish holiday, there are traditional treats, and the hamentaschen cookies are among my favorites. They're supposed to resemble the three-cornered hat worn by Haman. We made our cookies last weekend (so good, they're almost gone), so I thought I'd share the recipe.

I got it from Chabad, though the recipe on the website is different than this one.

1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of margarine (butter is good too)
1/2 cup of orange juice
4 cups of flour
2 lb. filling (see below)
3 tsps. baking powder
1/3 cup oil
3 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 egg beaten (for glaze)

Cream the sugar, oil and margarine. Add the eggs and juice and mix well. blend with dry ingredients and roll into a ball. Divide into four and refrigerate for 30 minutes (like sugar cookie dough). Take one ball out at a time and roll it on a floured board. You'll want to coat the ball with flour and add more flour as more dough gets exposed - it's very sticky. I don't even bother with the rolling pin because it sticks. I just use my hands. They recommend rolling it out very thin, 1/8 inch thin. Mine tend to tear, so I make mine thicker.

Use the rim of a glass and cut the dough into circles. I use wider-rim glasses (highballs) for mine. Put the dough on the cookie sheet and put a little filling inside. A little goes a long way. To shape it into a triangle, lift up the right and left sides, but leave the bottom down. Bring those sides together and pinch them. Bring the bottom to the middle of the cookie and pinch the sides together. The recipe says to grease the cookie sheet, but I just use cookie sheet liners.

Preheat the oven to 350 and put a little beaten egg on top of the cookie. Bake for about 20 minutes. The recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Use your imagination for the fillings. Traditional fillings include mohn (poppy seed), jams and prune filling. This year we tried peanut butter and chocolate chips, jam, and mashed up nut fillings (bought in a can in the baking section). If you use jam, know that some of them can get runny (especially raspberry) and may ooze out of the cookie.

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