Monday, February 26, 2007
Mondays with Maida - Hamantaschen
Page 199 in the old book / page 224 in the new book
These Hamantaschen are traditional for Purim, but have a nontraditional prune, apricot and walnut filling. Before I tell you more, Suzanne kindly provided a little background that I'll share with you...
In case you want to put a little history in your blog, the cookie is shaped like a triangle because the bad man in the story (Haman) who wanted to kill the Jews in Persia (Iran today) wore a three cornered (triangular) hat. What the King (Ahasverus) and Haman didn’t know was that the King was married to a Jew, Esther. When Esther found out from her uncle Mordechai that Haman wanted to kill all the Jews, she went to the King and told him that she was Jewish. The King loved Esther and instead killed Haman. Each year the Jewish people celebrate Esther saving the Jews in Persia by reading the Megillah of Esther (the Book of Esther) and each time Haman’s name is mentioned everyone drowns out the sound of his name with noisemakers (graggers). The children and some adults dress up in costumes. When I was a child, we dressed up as Esther, the King, Mordechai, and even Haman, but today they dress up in any costume. The synagogues also have Purim carnivals for the kids. It’s a fun holiday.
Well, even though the cookies are modeled on the bad guy's hat, I'm completely enamoured with their shape. It's simple to do, holds lots of filling, and looks great too. You cut a circle, spoon some filling in the middle, and then lift up three sides and pinch the corners together - it's far simpler to do then it is to describe. Maida suggests you hold the cookie in the palm of one hand while doing this, but I found it easier to work with it on the cookie sheet since that left both hands free to shape the cookie.
The filling was delicious in spite of the fact that my apricots were like cardboard. I hadn't noticed that they were within a couple of days of their sell-by date when I bought them. I could see they were pretty ugly, but chalked that up to the fact that they were unsulphured. I got home, though, and found that they were completely dried out. I steamed them (I had to or I wouldn't have even been able to chop them!), but still had to add quite a bit of extra water to the filling as it cooked. But it all worked out - the filling was sweet, tart and flavorful.
Here's the panel ...
Suzanne: "When I made this cookie with my kids when they were little, the cookie was harder in texture. Cathy’s cookie was delicious but the dough is softer then the traditional cookie. The cookie traditionally either has apricot, prunes or poppy in the center, but I enjoyed the mixture of prunes and apricots in this cookie. It had a sweet but tart taste. Since my kids love chocolate (I wonder where they got that from?) I use to put chocolate chips in the center. Rating - 4.5"
Laura: "These are very tasty cookies. The filling was yummy and I loved the unique 'tricorn' shape of the cookie. Rating - 3.5"
Denny: "Excellent, loved the filling although I missed the walnuts. Minus one for no chocolate gives them a 4.0. Rating - 4.0"
Terri: "These cookies are a work of art and truly delicious! The combination of the prunes and apricots make them sweet enough and the walnuts and crust add the perfect crunch. And of course, they must be good for us with the prunes! Rating - 5.0"
Overall rating by the panel - 4.3
Next week - Rugelach