The Jew And The Carrot

Uncommon Hamentaschen

By Rachel Harkham

  • Print
  • Share Share
Rachel Harkham

As a devoted, dessert-first, dentally-challenged lover of sweets I have often been disappointed by the hamantaschen. This iconic Purim cookie seems to me like a baked good whose main concern is its shape. The sweet center hardly ever extends itself past its expected core of apricot, prune, or poppy seed. The cookie crust that encloses its traditional center is often pale and plain in flavor and crumb, leaving nothing much to excited about beyond the triangle. I am calling for a hamentaschen makeover, because, really, a cookie is a terrible thing to waste.

Instead of using this Purim as an opportunity to try out chocolate fancies and other sweet ‘n creamy curiosities, I am dedicating it to the pursuit of delicious and different hamantaschen. I am devising a Purim baking plan. My goal is to come up with 3 or 4 uncommon, completely delicious, and totally fresh three-cornered holiday treats.

Using my Purim Package recipients as inspiration, I start my holiday baking exploration by considering a friend who has recently become a vegan. With a finely-honed sweet tooth that was trained on cookie jar favorites, any hamantaschen prepared for her will have to be positively yummy, as well as egg and dairy free. And wouldn’t you know that along with her vegan lifestyle, she has additionally embraced a diet free of refined sugar and flour ? It’s not quite as overwhelming as the challenges facing the Jews of Shushan, but in terms of making a delicious desert, it will be no small Purim miracle if I pull it off.

I begin with the cookie dough: It is wholesome tasting on account of the wholewheat flour that is mixed in equal measure with the all-purpose white flour (do I have to tell her?). The raw brown sugar (turbinado) lavishes the dough with a deep yet uncloying sweetness when mixed together with a teaspoon of cinnamon and the vanilla extract.

For the sweet filling: Turning to the past for flavorful inspiration was quite fruitful. Lekvar is an Eastern European fruit butter, traditionally made from prunes or apricots. In this updated version dried blueberries are boiled and plumped up in a mixture of equal parts lemon juice and sugar, yielding a gooey balance of sweet and tart.

Assembling the hamantaschen is the most challenging part of the process. The dough is on the sticky side. A well-floured rolling pin and work surface and a metal spatula or pastry scraper are helpful. But once the dollop of lekvar has been dropped in the center of each dough circle, the folding part is easy.

After removing the hamantaschen from the oven, breathing in its warm and sweet fragrance, and noting its golden brown complexion and familiar triangle form, I was feeling hopeful about my Purim Baking Project. Once I bit into a hamantash I was reassured. And when my kids begged for another, I was triumphant.

Rachel Harkham is a chocolatier and food writer who lives with her three children and husband in Rockland County, NY. Her cookbook “Get Cooking: A Jewish American Family Cookbook” written with Doni Zasloff Thomas will be available in Fall 2012.

Vegan Whole-Wheat Hamantaschen Dough
Makes 32-40 hamantaschen

2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup margarine or vegan buttery sticks
1 1/2 cups raw brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup apple juice or water

1) In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together on medium speed. Add additional apple juice or water if necessary to smooth out cookie dough.

2) Bring dough together with damp hands. Divide dough into 4 quarters, sprinkle with flour, and wrap each in plastic wrap and chill overnight in the fridge.

3) When ready remove wrapped portion one at a time and roll between 2 sheets of floured wax paper, or on a well-floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough from the center out into a large circle, about 1/4“ thick.

4) Cut out circles with a floured cookie cut or with rim of a drinking glass. Using a floured spatula lift the circles and place them on parchment paper lined baking sheets.

5) Spoon 1 heaping teaspoon of filling into the center of each circle. Fold over the edges to form three corners.

  1. Arrange the hamantaschen on the baking trays about 2 inches apart. Bake at 375F for 16- 18 minutes.

Blueberry Lekvar

1 1/2 cups dried blueberries
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar

1) Place dried blueberries in a medium saucepan with fresh lemon juice, water, and sugar. Bring mixture to a boil, and then reduce heat to a low simmer until the liquid is three quarters reduced (15-20 minutes)

2) Remove from heat. Transfer to a food processor and blend to a coarse paste. Allow to cool completely before filling hamantaschen.

Makes about 1 cup of lekvar.

Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Vegan, Purim

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • It's really, really, really hard to get kicked out of Hebrew school these days.
  • "If Netanyahu re-opens the settlement floodgates, he will recklessly bolster the argument of Hamas that the only language Israel understands is violence."
  • Would an ultra-Orthodox leader do a better job of running the Met Council?
  • So, who won the war — Israel or Hamas?
  • 300 Holocaust survivors spoke out against Israel. Did they play right into Hitler's hands?
  • Ari Folman's new movie 'The Congress' is a brilliant spectacle, an exhilarating visual extravaganza and a slapdash thought experiment. It's also unlike anything Forward critic Ezra Glinter has ever seen.
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.