Rolling in Dough
My congregation is having a big Purim Party on Sunday. They will need about 300 hamantaschen and I am bringing enough dough to make 2/3 of them. So are two other women who bake regularly for the congregation. So we will have 6/3 of the cookies we need. This is not news, we are Jewish. No, what is news is that I just perused the web to see what my fellow Jewesses have been up to in the hamantaschen department, and I believe I have something new to contribute.
There are some awesome offerings out there. My favorite is a commercial site that has a wonderful picture of a plate of the triangular cookies arranged into the shape of Star of David. Beautiful, but looking at those cookies makes me think that maybe they are a bit dry. There are some beautiful cookies out there, and I don’t just mean the edible ones. One woman featured a picture of her little daughter making hamantaschen, now that said daughter has children of her own. Cute! And look at these! Bird’s nest hamantaschen. Very authentic, if Haman wore a hat made out of unwoven flax fibers. Hey, my parent’s Etrogin came wrapped in flax fibers! But these pastries from Tel Aviv are not Etrog wrapping, they are made from something called "khadaif." A blog named “Chinese grandma” had the best step-by-step pictures.
And I thought that our bakers were good, but in my perusal of the web, I found out that we have been bested by the women bakers in the neighborhood of Schenechtady, NY, who in the year 2008 baked 4000--yes, that is FOUR THOUSAND hamantaschen for distribution in the community of Niskayuna, NY.
Bu I said I had something new to contribute, and I do: Striped, irresistible, hamentaschen.
You see, I used to make jewelry out of polymer clay. The jewelry was made out of plastic-based modeling compound that came in all sorts of colors, and was shaped and rolled like dough, then baked in the oven. You see where I’m going, here?
So I’m going to show you some pictures of my creations, and give you the recipe for my award winning deliacies, and not tell you how to do the striping. That will be my secret.
My congregation, Etz Chayim, had a hamantaschen bake-off in 2003, and my cookies won. They were so good, one dad called them “heroin hamantaschen,” because they were so addictive, he could not stop eating them. I can’t blame him. They have two of the best flavors in the world in one bite—the cookie is a rich butter cookie and the filling is chocolate ganache. Alice Medrich created the recipe, which was printed in her book A Year in Chocolate.
You should know a few things: that this filling recipe makes enough for almost two batches of cookie dough, a tiny little cookie scoop is the fasted way to parcel out the filling, and that you should wet the cookies and pinch the sides of the hamantaschen together very carefully (actually, very firmly) to make sure they do not fall apart in the oven.
1 stick butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cold eggs
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a double boiler, stirring frequently. Remove the top of the double boiler and add the sugar, vanilla extract and salt and continue stirring. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring to incorporate each completely before adding the next. Finally, stir in the flour and beat with a wooden spoon by hand for about a minute. The filling will turn glossy and begin to come away from the bowl. Transfer to a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate until needed.
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened but not squishy
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Mix the first three ingredients with a whisk and set aside. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar for about 3 - 4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla, and then, on low speed, beat in the flour until just incorporated. Form the dough into two bricks, warp with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.
Oven preheated to 350, remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to warm until it becomes supple enough to roll out. Roll each brick individually to a thickness of about 1/8". It is easiest to do this between two sheets of wax paper. You may want to turn the dough over a couple of times, keeping it between the two sheets, to ensure that no deep creases form.
Cut cookies out using a 3" round cutter and transfer cookie rounds to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Put a leveled teaspoon of filling in the center of each cookie round, then bring 3 sides of each round up to partially cover the filling. Pinch the sides together. Cookies should be spaced about 1/2" apart on the sheet.
Bake for a total of 18-22 minutes, rotating the pans half-way through baking. Allow to cool completely on racks.