Friday, March 21, 2008

Purim -- All in the Family

A couple of years ago, my mom and I had a sort of masterclass of Ozney Haman, or Hamantaschen-making.

She has made these triangular cookies filled with jam for as long as I could remember for Purim, the Jewish holiday where Queen Esther and a bunch of other Jews kicked some Haman ass. For a clearly more knowledgeable explanation of what Purim is, click here. Ozney Haman, in Hebrew, means 'Haman's ears'. As you could guess, Haman is the bad guy. The triangular cookies are traditionally filled with a sweet poppyseed filling, to symbolize Haman's dirty ears. Oddly enough, Hamantaschen is Yiddish for Haman's pockets... I'm not sure what that has to do with him being a meanie, but there it is.

So my mom's cookies are really distinct. They are known to be the Israeli version. Hamantaschen in the States are quite crumbly, much like the Italian cookies sold in bakeries. I loathe them; so it is no surprise that when my mom taught me to make these, I went with her recipe. Here are some pics from the tutorial from a couple of years ago.

Which brings us to now. I went searching everywhere for the recipe that my mom dictated to me; I couldn't find it anywhere! Finally, I just gave up and asked again for the recipe. This time I vow not to lose it, and I'll write it in this post 'just in case' I do.

My sister and Liam came over to make the hamantaschen. We planned to give it to my mom because it is customary to bake these as gifts for others.

So, first you start by mixing up flour and very, very soft butter in a large bowl. You end up getting very small pieces of butter, much like a fine crumble topping.

Then you mix up two yolks with sugar until the sugar is fully dissolved. Our guest chef, Liam, helped us out with that that, and also in breaking the eggs on the edge of the bowl. Good job, buddy!

To this smaller bowl, you add baking soda that has been mixed with lemon juice (don't ask me why, it's my mom's recipe!) and some plain yogurt.

You mix the wet into the dry, and work the dough slowly until it all comes together. You have to be careful not to work the dough too much, and since it is quite soft, I put it in the middle of some clingfilm and pulled the sides of the clingfilm up and on to the dough to bring the more crumbly parts together with the rest of the dough. You then chill it in the fridge for a couple of hours before rolling it out.

The next step involves rolling, cutting out circles, filling with thick jam, and then pinching the sides to get a triangle with only a little bit of jam peaking out. Then, you brush the sides of the dough with a beaten egg.

On our first try making these, we did get some cookies that opened up a bit and let the jam spill out. But most turned out pretty great!

I'm sure there are lots of recipes for these and many home traditions. But for my money, my mom's are best! And I'm proud to say, that ours come a close second! Thanks, mom!

Hamantaschen (Ozney Haman)

3 cups flour
200 grams soft butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp plain yogurt

1/4 cup of jam (possibly more)
1 egg, beaten (for glaze)

Mix flour and butter in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix the yolks with the sugar until it dissolves. In a small cup, mix the lemon juice with the baking soda; add this to the egg yolks and sugar and mix well. Finally, add the yogurt to the smaller bowl.

Mix in the wet ingredients into the flour and butter. Work carefully into a dough. Cover in clingfilm and chill in the refrigerator for two hours or more.

On a floured countertop or board, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out circles (using a 2 inch circle cutter or larger) and place on a lined baking sheet. Put about a half a teaspoon of your jam of choice into the middle of each circle, and using both hands, pinch on both sides to form a triangle. Pinch from the inside in to seal the jam in the middle of the dough. Leave a little area on top for the jam to peak

Bake at 350F for about 20-30 minutes, depending on oven, until cookies are golden.

Update: I baked these delectable lovelies again for my co-workers. I also got a chance to use the cute cookie cutter my friend, Francesca, sent me. 'Hay' means 'life' or 'alive'. Thank you, Francesca!


Sarah Nicole said...

The cookies look great and all, but it's your cute haircut that got my attention. It looks cute, I mean what I can see of it. I wish I had a face for short hair like that!

Anonymous said...

Your new hair cut does really suit you Ilana, it looks fabulous.

Purim cookies look wonderful too, I'm inspired to make some myself too now, maybe on Tuesday :)

George xoxo

Anonymous said...

ilana your cookies look yami and testy two bravooo.mama

Lisa said...

They look great! What kind of jam do you like to use?

Lady M said...

Thank you, everyone. The haircut is new-ish. Got it about a month and a half ago.

The cookies WERE great. :) Lisa, I like using different kinds. Some of these were raspberry and others were blueberry/cranberry. It doesn't matter, and it's totally by preference. The most important thing is to have a chunky one so it doesn't seep out like some of mine did, even though I thought them to be quite chunky. A neat trick is to mix the jam with crumbled tea cookies to give it more heft. That is what my mom does, and can be seen in the pics at the top of the post. :)

Cheers, everyone, and mama!


Anna's kitchen table said...

I love these family traditions of yours - it's so interesting for me to read and see! :-)

Anonymous said...

I've just taken a batch of these out of the oven, and burnt my mouth eating one. They're stunning Ilana, that's a fabulous recipe your mam's got there.

Lady M said...

I'm glad you liked them, George. :) They look great on your blog!