Saturday, March 2, 2013

Hamantaschen Cookies for Purim, February 24th, from Israel

You trudge upwards on a hot, diagonal mountain path near the Dead Sea. You volunteered to do this instead of taking the cable car. As you sweat under the sun, you see the plateau you are walking towards: the Masad. What was once Herod the Great's Palace is now in ruins, a fossil-like spiral snail structure in the middle of the desert.
Nearby, you can also visit Ein Gedi, a genuine oasis that has been inhabited for 5,000 years.Two waterfalls are attractions, as well as spotting animals such as wild goats.
In contrast, float in a natural spa nearby which is also one of the lowest points on Earth, the Dead Sea. At 483 meters below sea level, it is much lower than Badwater in Death Valley California, or the Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan.

Hamantaschen (Oznei Haman in Hebrew) are cookies that are eaten during the Jewish feast of Purim (once the fasting is over). Purim conmemorates an event written in the book of Esther; Queen Esther's cousin told her that a man named Haman had convinced the King to kill all the Jewish people in the kingdom, and she fortunately was able to convince him to reverse the edict. Thus, the cookies represent this man, Haman's pockets (taschen) full of bribe money. 

They are usually filled with a homemade jam that includes walnuts, but can be filled with any jam. I tried an apricot filling, as well as nontraditional fillings such as my guava and loquat jams.

Recipe from
1 1/4 cups of butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon of orange juice
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3 cups of flour

Filling (My recipe is different from that cited above)
A more traditional apricot jam or firm one of your choice (I used loquat and guava)
1/2 teaspoon of rum
1/2 cup of walnuts

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg, orange juice, and salt, and beat well. Mix in flour until it turns into a dough ball. Refrigerate half an hour.

Roll out a quarter of the dough at a time. Cut out 3 inch circles. You can even use the top of a 3 inch mug to cut them out if you don't have the right size cookie cutter. (That's what I did). Wet the perimeter of the circle with water. Place a teaspoonful of the jam in the center, then pinch three points of the circle with your thumb and forefinger to form a triangle. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 375 degrees F.

Recipe from

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