The author wondered why chocolate was usually left out of the dough of a classic Purim treat. Photograph by Tami Ganeles/Weiser/The Weiser Kitchen.
Chocolate is in many ways the quintessential example of a food that is both Old and New World. Cacao, the bean from which chocolate is derived, was well known to both the Aztec and the Mayan peoples. It was a bitter powder ground from pods and prized for its alleged aphrodisiac properties.
The Spanish Conquistadors took cocoa back to Europe with them, where they concocted a wildly popular drink with the addition of sugar (also a New World food) and copious amounts of milk or cream. There you have it: the invention of the hot chocolate we would likely recognize today.
Sweet, creamy dulce de leche — a rich Latino caramel — is a wonderful counterpoint to chocolate’s slightly bitter edge. The warmth of ground chilies hits the palate last. This is a great cookie for adventurous eaters. Photograph by Tami Ganeles-Weiser/The Weiser Kitchen.
Makes 36 cookies
For the dough:
3½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, Mexican preferred
½ teaspoon ground guajillo chili powder (or other medium-hot chili)
½ teaspoon ground ancho chili powder (or other relatively mild chili)
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, optional
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1¾ cups light brown sugar
3 large eggs
4 ounces dark chocolate (between 68% and 72% cacao), melted in microwave or a double boiler and cooled to room temperature
3 tablespoons Kahlua or other chocolate liqueur
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
For the egg wash:
1 egg white
2 teaspoons water
For the filling:
1 cup dulce de leche
For the drizzle:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (between 58% and 64% cacao)
1) Make the dough: Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, guajillo and ancho chili powders and cayenne pepper in a mixing bowl, and whisk well to combine. Set aside.
2) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or, if you are using a handheld mixer, in a large mixing bowl), combine the butter and light brown sugar, and mix at medium speed for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix after each addition until incorporated. Add the melted dark chocolate, and mix to combine. With the mixer running at low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and mix to form a dough.
3) Shape the dough into 2 flat, round disks, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, until very firm. (This dough can be refrigerated for up to 5 days before rolling and baking.)
4) Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats and set aside. Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin.
5) Place 1 disk of dough on the work surface, and roll out until it is between ¼- and ⅛-inch thick. (The second disk should remain refrigerated while you do the first batch.) With a 3-inch cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible and set on the prepared baking sheet, arranging them about 1 inch apart, 12 circles per sheet. Collect scraps, reroll and cut into additional rounds once.
6) Make the egg wash by whisking the egg white and 1 teaspoon of water in a bowl. With a pastry brush, brush the edges of each round of dough with the egg wash.
7) Place 1 heaping teaspoon of dulce de leche in the center of each. Fold up the edges to shape each filled round into a triangle, pinching them to form points, and leaving a small amount of filling exposed at the top. Repeat with the remaining chilled dough and filling. Brush the dough with egg wash.
8) Chill the filled hamantaschen in the refrigerator for 10–15 minutes.
9) Bake for 9–10 minutes, alternating the baking sheets between the oven racks and turning the trays halfway through the baking time. Let cool for 10–12 minutes. Bake the remaining hamantaschen.
10) Meanwhile, melt the semisweet chocolate in the microwave for 2–3 minutes, stirring often. When it is melted, drizzle decoratively over the hamantaschen.
Tami Ganeles-Weiser is a food anthropologist, trained chef, recipe developer, writer and founder of TheWeiserKitchen.com.
Chocolate and halvah are a perfect pairing, and this cookie, fudgy and rich, is as delicious as it sounds. Photograph by Tami Ganeles/Weiser/The Weiser Kitchen.
Yields 36 cookies
For the dough:
4¾ cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
3½ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
⅓ cup strong coffee, espresso preferred, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons chocolate liqueur, Godiva preferred
For the filling:
2 cups Nutella, or any chocolate nut spread
2 cups crumbled halvah, traditional or marble
For the egg wash:
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon water
1) Make the dough: Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to blend well.
2) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or, if you are using a handheld mixer, in a large mixing bowl), combine the butter and sugar and mix at medium speed for 3–5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down side of bowl with a rubber spatula.
3) With the mixer running at low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition until fully incorporated. Add the coffee, vanilla bean paste and chocolate liqueur and mix to form a dough.
4) Shape the dough into 2 flat, round disks, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until very firm. (This dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days before rolling and baking.)
5) When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats and set aside. Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin.
6) Place 1 disk of dough on the work surface, and roll out until it is between ¼- and ⅛-inch thick. (The second disk should remain refrigerated while you do the first batch.) With a 3-inch cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible and place on the prepared baking sheets, arranging them about 1 inch apart. Collect the scraps of dough, re-roll once, cut additional circles and place on the baking sheet.
7) Make the egg wash by whisking the egg whites and 1 teaspoon of water in a bowl. With a pastry brush, brush the edges of each round of dough with the egg wash.
8) Place the Nutella and crumbled halvah in a small mixing bowl and stir until fully combined. It will not be smooth and may have a few small chunks.
9) Place 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center of each circle. Fold up the edges to shape each filled round into a triangle, pinching them to form points, and leaving a small amount of filling exposed at the top. Repeat with the remaining chilled dough and filling. Brush the dough (but not the filling) with egg wash.
10) Chill the filled hamantaschen in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
11) Bake for 13–14 minutes, until firm, alternating the baking sheets between the oven racks and turning the trays 180° F halfway through the baking time. Let cool for 5–7 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Bake the remaining hamantaschen.
Tami Ganeles-Weiser is a food anthropologist, trained chef, recipe developer, writer and founder of TheWeiserKitchen.com.
Breads Bakery, whose hamantaschen are pictured above, will operate three food concessions at the Armory Show, which falls on Purim this year. Photograph courtesy of Breads Bakery.
Here’s everything you need to know about restaurant openings and closings, chefs on the move and tasty events happening in the world of Jewish food.
A very serious art show will get a little Purim spirit this year.
Breads, the Israeli-owned bakery near Union Square, will serve its highly praised hamantaschen at the Armory Show, the chichi contemporary art fair that calls itself “one of the most important annual art events in New York.”
It’s a first for both Breads and the Armory Show, whose dates coincide with Purim this year. Breads will operate three food concessions at the show; along with hamantaschen, the bakery will offer baked goods like babka and croissants, plus sandwiches, salads and sweets.
What kind of genius came up with the idea that prunes would make a great cookie filling, to be eaten without fail once a year?
Whoever they were, they were wrong.
But have no fear! We have a new hamantaschen option for you this year, and it’s as delicious as a cocktail, without the embarrassment that goes with actually being drunk at your family’s Purim party.
Alison Barnett has come up with a series of cocktail-themed hamantaschen that make regular old flavors seem like a too-sweet, dry and cakey distant memory.
“[The] two main things we consume on Purim are alcohol and hamantashen. I decided to combine the two into a real fun and creative dessert,” Barnett told the Forward. Her flavors include: White Russian, Tequila Sunrise, Mojito, Whiskey Sour and Cosmopolitan.
A mid-day snack tasting session by the Forward’s staff saw some clear favorites emerge: Whiskey Sour, treated with suspicion at first glance because of the ominous-looking maraschino cherry embedded in the crust, was actually a surprisingly pleasant mix of almond-sugar crust and citrus filling — not too sweet, not too tangy; White Russian was, as expected, a smooth combination of Kahlua and coffee flavors (though the extra icing drizzled onto the crust was unnecessary). Finally, Tequila Sunrise packs a citrus kick strong enough to lift any remaining winter blues.
Barnett first started experimenting with the idea three years ago. This is her first year actually selling the final product (to order on Etsy, click here). $21 will get you a dozen of these goodies — try getting that deal at a bar.
According to Barnett, she’s already thinking up new flavors for next year’s round. Irish coffee, anyone?
Until then, try your own version of the Tequila Sunrise at home (and take a few extra sips on the side — we won’t tell).
photos by Molly Yeh
When I was a kid, hamantaschen came in two varieties: poppyseed (what the sophisticated grown-ups ate) and fruit. It didn’t matter what kind of fruit, it all tasted the same — overly sweet and sticky, and most importantly, difficult to scrape out with a spoon in order to get to the goods — the sugar cookie that encased it.
These days, the internet is bursting with wild varieties of hamantaschen: gummy bears and dulce de leche are tucked into dough, and a trend of savory hamantaschen has resulted in fillings like balsamic caramelized onions and roasted lamb with pine nuts.
I want them all. And what do you expect from a holiday that has basically one distinguishing food item? It’s not like Hanukkah, when anything fried is fair game, or Passover with all of its matzo brittle and macaroons. Purim gets booze, costumes and hamantaschen. And I’d just like to say that I’m proud of Jewish bakers everywhere who have refused to submit to culinary boredom when it comes to this holiday.
Last year, I gave my two cents to this hamantaschen craze with a black sesame filling and a savory gruyère filling. This year, I’m giving you two more: The first is filled with red bean paste, a popular ingredient in Asian desserts. Made from adzuki beans (which you can find at Asian grocery stores), it has almost a peanut butter quality. The second hamantaschen is inspired by the oatmeal pie at the Brooklyn bakery Four & Twenty Blackbirds: Imagine an oatmeal cookie wrapped in a hat of sugar cookie, it’s hamantaschen heaven. You will never think about scooping out the filling again.
From the destruction of Sandy, a Far Rockaway bagel shop rises. [Eatocracy]
A look at Katz’s through the years. [EV Grieve]
It’s almost Purim. Check out this guide to hamantaschen in NYC. [Village Voice]
10 beautiful and edible gifts to give Purim. [Food 52]
Which brisket was crowned king? [Serious Eats]
Head to Mile End when you feel like Montreal-Jewish-Sichuan. [Bon Appetit]
Since being aurally haunted by hundreds of toy noise makers during one Purim celebration in my childhood, Purim has been banned from my top 10 list of favorite holidays (making way for more quiet and civilized holidays where you soberly eat matzo ball soup with your family). In my wimpy eyes its only point of redemption is hamantaschen. This year, I have reinterpreted the triangle cookies two ways — one sweet and Asian inspired and the other savory and filled with delicious rich cheese.
My favorite varieties of classic hamantaschen can be found at a few hidden deli counters in New York and in care packages from the mother of a dear college friend, Brian. When we were in college, Brian’s apartment was good for three things: throwing wild patio parties, eating spray can cheese, and hosting impromptu hamantaschen eating parties as soon as his Purim care package arrived. His mother’s hamantaschen were soft, doughy, slightly smashed from the shipping process, and swimming in powdered sugar (perfect for the morning after those legendary patio parties). So when I decided to make hamantaschen this year — with a personal twist — the obvious starting point was tapping Brian’s mom for her recipe.
One of these recipes draws on my Asian heritage and uses black sesame seeds in place of the traditional poppy seed filling. Black sesames are common in Asian cooking and have a smokier and nuttier flavor than their white counterparts. The other is an homage to my cheese and spinach obsessions and is as perfect for an appetizer or party hors d’oeuvre as it is sacrilege.
Living in a small Brazilian village an hour’s drive from the northeastern city of Recife, it’s easy to forget the rhythms of the outside world. We had barely finished cleaning up from the revelry of Carnival, when an email arrived to remind me of the onset of Purim and that the costume wearing, drinking in the streets, and sweet treats, were yet to be over. Purim, at the back end of Carnival, seemed a perfect fit for my adopted Brazilian community. And just like that I was making hamantashen, the signature, three-cornered holiday cookie.
Now, it’s true that Recife was the first Jewish community in the New World, where Sephardic Jews found refuge when the area was a Dutch colony between 1630 and 1654. But if Jews ever stepped foot in my little shtetl, Paudalho, 22 miles inland, their presence is lost to the mists of history. Today — more than 350 years after the Recife Jews fled the conquering Portuguese for another Dutch colonial backwater, New Amsterdam — the Jewish population of Paudalho stands at exactly one. I am also the only American and the singular graduate of the Culinary Institute of America.
It’s been over two decades since Zohar Zohar, the dark-haired, soft-spoken owner of Zucker Bakery, a new Israeli pastry shop and café in the East Village that serves Jewish delights, has lived on Kibbutz Sarid in northern Israel. She grew up there with her grandparents and parents (most of her extended family lived in Czechoslovakia and died in the Holocaust), running around the grounds with playmates as a child and working in the kitchen, cooking rice and chicken for the thousand person community, as an adult. Her most vivid memories were visiting her grandparents, relaxing in their living room and eating homemade cookies. “I think there is something special about the way you feel when you go to your grandparents,” she says. “And that’s the way I remember it.”
Although Zohar, who left the Kibbutz when she was 21, has lived in New York City for 17 years, finished culinary school, worked 90-hour weeks at prestigious restaurants such as Daniel and Bouley and raised two kids, she still craves those moments of being at her grandmother’s house on the kibbutz. With Zucker Bakery, which she opened in September, she’s on a mission to recreate them with treats like rugelach and babka, along with Israeli treats like honey almond fingers, each of which has a personal story behind it.
“What Are Your Favorite Sustainable Food Stories in America?” Serious Eats asks, for The Perennial Plate, a video series that will tour the country to tell the story of sustainable foodies, farmers and chefs.
Not only is Sunday but it’s macaron day as well. And no, not the type we eat for Passover, but the French sandwich cookies that come in almost any flavor imaginable. If you’re looking for some high quality cookies of either variety, check out Tablet’s recent post.
Late night guy Larry King opens his West Coast Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. in Beverly Hills today, where he’ll manufacture the signature Brooklyn water, which reportedly gives New York bagels their taste and texture, Daily Dish reports.
Masquerades, double identities, and hidden truths are the very essence of Purim, the story, the parties, the carnivals, and as it turns out the food too. Traditionally, across the Jewish landscape, food was as integral to Purim celebrations as it was to Passover or Rosh Hashana. In addition to gifts of food, there is the mandatory celebratory meal, the Purim Se’udah or feast. The menu of this meal historically varied by community with local tastes and traditions. But common across the landscape were “hidden foods,” which looked like one thing on the outside, but like the story of Ester revealed secrets below the surface. Folding, rolling, stuffing and cramming away from rabbinic view, Jewish women through the generations created culinary complements to hidden motifs of the Purim story.
How and when this tradition developed is shrouded in mystery, as the evidence was eaten and not recorded, but recipes passed through the generations and diverse communities, with very different culinary traditions, all found hidden foods tucked into their Purim menus. Persian Jews who laid special claim to the holiday — given that the story of Purim story is set in ancient Persia — have a tradition of eating gondi a meatball with the surprising filling of raisins and nuts, in a sweet and sour sauce. From the Greek Island of Rhodes there is a custom of sticky honey cookies called travadicos which are filled with nuts. The Jewish community of Italy added spinach ravioli and manicotti to the mix. The legacy of Eastern Europe takes shape with kreplach, delicate dumplings filled with meat and challahs stuffed with onions and poppy seeds.
We asked you for your most creative mishloach manot, (edible Purim gifts), recipes and you responded well. (To learn more about this tradition, see this morning’s post We received several hamantashen recipes including ones filled with cheesecake and even brownie bits. There was also the double chocolate hamantashen with chocolate dough and nutella filling — yum!. But our favorite was a recipe that has it’s root in the 1930’s and combines prune and apricot butters, raisins, walnuts and citrus zest. We also like the surprisingly simple recipe for candied ginger we received. Finally, I also share with you my personal recipe for blood orange maple nut granola, which I will be sending to my friends this Purim. Happy cooking and happy Purim.
Forgot to send us your mishloach manot ideas? Tell us about them in the comments.
Hamantaschen from Amy Mates
Amy writes: This recipe was given to me by my mother, taught to her by a kindly neighbor, Mrs. Bailen, on Norfolk Street on the Lower East Side in the 1930’s after her own mother had died and she became the one in charge of all the cooking. We all loved these as kids, and for many years my mom would send delicately wrapped ‘hummies’ to her children across the country, and even to her ‘machatunim’ after I was married. (The original recipe called for cooked pitted prunes, and it took my Great Aunt Bea to tell my mother in the l950’s that in America you can buy a ready made jar of Lekvar and save yourself a lot of work.)
On Purim, the standard Jewish holiday cliffnote, “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat” gets a special addition: “Let’s help other people eat, too.” Purim, which starts Saturday night and goes through Sunday, is a holiday that not only requires a banquet (se’udah), but also that we send gifts of good food to our friends, and help out the less fortunate in our community, as per Mordecai’s specific request in the book of Esther: “And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters to all the Jews…that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, and of sending food one to another, and gifts to the poor.”(Esther 9:20-22)
What kind of a gift is food? Unlike other presents, food disappears once consumed (in this case, often leaving a trail of hamentaschen crumbs). Yet a gift of food — cookies, cakes, fruits, nuts and other treats are common on this holiday — sends two special messages that are appropriate for a day of celebrating our success escaping national collapse. Food keeps our physical bodies alive and is also a celebration of life, having within it the capacity to elevate the basic experience of eating into one of delight and joy. Giving the gift of food says at once: “I don’t want you to be hungry” and “I want you to really enjoy life.” In the face of the grim story of Purim, not only should we note that we’re indeed still alive enough to eat — we should revel in it.
Imagine removing the sweet and sticky poppy seed filling from a hamentaschen. Now, roll this into soft and light yeast dough to form a log. After baking, cut into slices, and admire the black swirl against the light pastry, a kind of Ashkanazi yin-yang delicacy. It used to be a classic Purim treat, both in my family and in Poland and Israel.
My family tradition of delicious and sweet poppy seed rolls stems from my late grandmother Rachel. Born in Poland, she made aliyah to Israel in her youth. Throughout her life, she prepared traditional Ashkenazi dishes. Her yeasted poppy seed rolls were Purim favorites, and also frequently made an appearance during the rest of the year. Even into my father’s adulthood, my grandmother baked huge batches of these pastries for Purim and packed them up to give to my father and his siblings. With Purim approaching, I decided to recreate the recipe that I had heard so much about.
As with many other Jewish holidays, the tradition of poppy seeds for Purim is rooted in symbolism. Apparently, we Jews blot out the name of the evil Haman by gobbling up poppy seed desserts. According to the “Encyclopedia of Jewish Food” by Gil Marks, the Yiddish word for poppy seed, mohn, is similar to the Hebrew pronunciation of the villain of the Purim story, Hamohn. Thus, the Ashkenazic Jews of Eastern Europe celebrated Purim with the poppy seed hamentaschen that are well known today, as well as poppy seed cookies and filled yeast pastries like my grandmother Rachel’s poppy seed roll.
Purim might just be the perfect Jewish foodie holiday — we are required to feast, drink in revelry and to give one another food presents, or mishloach manot. The latter is the perfect project for passionate cooks and anyone who is testing the waters with DIY gifts.
The tradition of giving edible gifts comes from the Megilah we read on Purim: “They should make them days of feasting and gladness of mishloach manot [sending portions] one to another, and gifts to the poor.” More specifically, are supposed to send at least one person two different foods or drinks that are ready to be enjoyed without much preparation.
What homemade mishloach manot will you be sending your family and friends this year? Email us your ideas and recipes at email@example.com by Thursday, March 10th. The top treats ideas will be printed on the blog on Monday March 14th, giving you plenty of time to whip up batches of homemade granola, apple sauce or inventive hamentaschen!