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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Purim Party (The Festive Goodies)

Happy Tuesday everyone! Purim is just around the corner, and even if you don't celebrate, it's a cookie holiday so who can turn that down??? I've got a few recipes to make your Purim happier, sweeter, and a little more intriguing. Enjoy!

Modern update on the staples...
Chocolate Hamantaschen with Caramel Pecan Filling
LA Times

Chocolate Pecan Filling:
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups toasted chopped pecans
  • 7 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup milk or nondairy creamer
  • 1/4 cup honey
Chocolate Filling:
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk, whipping cream or coffee
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup finely ground almonds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
  • 3 tablespoons hot water
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
Chocolate Pecan Filling:
  1. Bring sugar and water to boil in heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring with wooden spoon until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add pecans, butter and milk. Return to heat, stirring constantly, and simmer until thick, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in honey.
  2. Transfer to oven-proof glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.
Chocolate Filling:
  1. Combine cocoa, sugar, milk and walnuts in bowl and blend thoroughly.
  1. Combine flour, almonds, baking powder, salt and sugar. Blend in butter with electric mixer until mixture resembles very fine crumbs.
  2. Blend water and cocoa in small bowl and beat in egg. Add to flour mixture and beat until mixture begins to form dough. Do not over-mix.
  3. Transfer to floured board and knead into ball. Chill 30 minutes for easier handling. Divide into 6 or 7 portions. Flatten each with palm of hands and roll out 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 3 1/2-inch rounds with scalloped cookie cutter. Place 1 teaspoon Caramel Pecan Filling or Chocolate Filling in center of each round. Fold edges of dough toward center to form triangle, leaving bit of filling visible in center. Pinch edges to seal.
  4. Place on lightly greased foil-lined baking sheet and brush with egg white. Bake at 350 degrees until firm, about 20 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool.

Traditionally delish...
Apricot Hamantaschen
Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray, The New Jewish Table

  • 4 cups dried apricots
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 cup egg wash
  1. Soak the apricots. Place the apricots in a medium bowl. Add boiling water to cover and set aside to soak for 1 hour.
  2. Mix the dough. Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl. Whisk together the eggs, 1 cup of the sugar, and the lemon zest and orange zest in a large bowl, whisking until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is creamy and foamy. Sift the flour mixture into the egg mixture, stirring together with a wooden spoon until combined and a dough forms. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Make the filling. Drain the apricots in a colander, stirring to eliminate the surface water, and then blot dry on paper towels. Transfer them to a chopping board or bowl and finely chop. Mix the apricots, walnuts if using, and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl, stirring until well combined.
  4. Make the cookies. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out 3-inch circles (use a biscuit cutter). Place a generous spoonful of filling in the center of each circle, then fold up three sides so the cookie looks like a 3-cornered hat, pinching the dough edges together but leaving the center open as shown in the photo. Gather the dough scraps and reroll; cut and fill in the same way. Arrange the cookies on the prepared baking sheets and lightly brush with the egg wash, which will give them a nice color. Bake until the pastry is golden brown—20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the cookies from the baking sheets to wire racks to cool.
Sandwich Cookies Are Nice, Too
  1. For a different presentation (especially if you like to save the hat shape for Purim), make these into sandwich cookies. Use a small cutter to remove the centers from half the circles you cut out. Spread the filling over the whole circles and place a cutout circle on top of each one. Bake as above. You can dust the cooled cookies with confectioners' sugar if you wish.
Use Almonds for Passover
  1. This recipe can easily be transformed for serving at Passover. Simply substitute ground blanched almonds for the flour and omit the baking powder, and mix as directed for the Hamantaschen. The dough will be too sticky to roll out so choose one of the following options to shape and bake the cookies.
  2. Thumbprint cookies. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Pinch off walnut-size pieces, roll into balls, and arrange on a baking sheet, pressing a hollow into the center of each with your thumb. Fill the hollows with the apricot filling and bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Slice-and-bake cookies. Shape the dough into a log about 2 inches in diameter and wrap in plastic wrap; freeze overnight. Slice 1/4-inch thick and bake for 12 minutes. Make into sandwich cookies with the apricot filling if you wish.

Often overlooked, but not forgotten...
Ma'amoul (Nut-Filled Cookies)
Joan Nathan, Jewish Holiday Cookbook

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina flour
  • 10 ounces (2 1/2 sticks) pareve margarine or 1 pound (2 sticks) butter
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water
  • Confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups roughly ground walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  1. For the dough, place the flour, semolina, margarine, and oil in a food processor equipped with a steel blade. Add the water gradually, pulsing until a soft dough is formed. Cover and set aside for 10–15 minutes in the refrigerator.
  2. For the filling, combine the walnuts with the cinnamon and sugar.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Either use the ma'amoul mold described above or take a piece of dough about the size of a walnut. Roll it into a ball and hollow out the center. Inside, place a heaping teaspoon of walnut filling. With your hands, mold the dough closed.
  5. Continue with the rest of the dough.
  6. Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet. With the tines of a fork or tweezers with a serrated edge, make designs on the top of each cookie, being sure not to penetrate the crust.
  7. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Do not brown; the cookies should look white. Cool. When hard, roll in confectioners' sugar.

Happy baking!

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